Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica A. Chittenden

May 09, 2008

Governor Paterson Works to Protect Interests Of New York Dairy Farmers in Farm Bill

New York Dairy Farmers Need Protection from Increased Costs of Dairy Production

Governor David A. Paterson today announced that after weeks of negotiation, the final version of the federal Farm Bill will include the critical “Feed Cost Adjuster Amendment” to ensure that New York’s dairy farmers will continue to benefit from the federal milk price support program despite the surging costs of animal feed.

Last week, Governor Paterson contacted House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) to stress the importance of this amendment to New York’s farmers, and urge him to push his fellow Farm Bill negotiators to consider the Feed Cost Adjuster Amendment. Backed by the Governor, Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand, Congressman Michael Arcuri, and other members of Congress from the Northeast, Congressman Rangel convinced House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson to include this critical amendment in the final farm bill conference report.

“This amendment ensures that dairy farmers across New York State will receive support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture when they need it most. I hope it will enable farm families to sustain their business even when the price they receive for milk fails to keep pace with the cost of producing it,” said Governor Paterson. “On behalf of New York’s dairy farmers, I sincerely thank Chairman Rangel, Congresswoman Gillibrand, Congressman Arcuri, and members of our congressional delegation for keeping the pressure on the Farm Bill negotiators to include the amendment in the final bill.”

Congressman Rangel said: “Dairy farms are the backbone of our state’s agricultural economy and this bill helps build economic security for family farmers struggling with the rising cost of feed. I am proud to have worked with my colleagues to advance this critical provision.”

Initially proposed by Senators Robert P. Casey (D-PA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the Feed Cost Adjuster Amendment adds language to adjust the price at which payments are made to farmers under the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program based on the composite monthly price of feed (corn, soybeans and alfalfa hay.) Without such action, the price of milk could potentially remain above the payment trigger price indefinitely. Over the five-year life of the previous federal farm bill, New York dairy farmers received $230 million in MILC payments; without this amendment, they would not receive any funding.

Congresswoman Gillibrand said: “The corn ethanol boom has not only caused the price of food to go up, but the cost to feed animals, including dairy cows, has also gone up causing even higher prices for milk. By helping our local dairy farmers pay for their feed costs, we hope that this will help lower milk prices for consumers in the end.”

Congressman Arcuri said: “Family farms in Upstate New York need a safety net when prices fall and costs increase. I strongly supported extending the MILC program in this farm bill and worked diligently to ensure that input prices are taken into account when determining milk support prices. Rising energy and feed costs put a major strain on local dairy farmers, leaving them in a difficult economic situation because they have no control over the price of milk. This bill will help by tying MILC support to what struggling dairy farmers pay for their feed. If feed prices go up, price support goes up and if feed prices go down support can go down as well. Dairy farmers are a critical part of rural communities across our state, and I am proud to announce that we have successfully stood up for their needs in the Farm Bill.”

New York State Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets Patrick Hooker said: “While the MILC program has been a lifeline for many small and mid-sized producers in recent years, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the MILC program is inadequate to address the current needs of dairy producers in the case of a downward turn in milk prices. The Feed Cost Adjuster Amendment is a perfect example of what can get accomplished when New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont work together as a region to serve our respective dairy farmers. I am grateful for everyone’s support and determination to include this safety net in the Farm Bill that will be critically important in emergency situations.”

John Lincoln, President of New York Farm Bureau said: “We are very appreciative that the Governor is helping to influence a positive outcome in the Farm Bill for New York agriculture. Dairy is our number one segment of agriculture. We are hopeful that because of Governor Paterson's effort and the ongoing hard work that our congressional delegation has put into this farm bill negotiation, the final version will help the farm families of New York thrive.”

New York State’s 6,200 dairy farms generate $2.4 billion from the sale of milk, which accounts for approximately half of the state’s total agricultural receipts. The dairy industry in New York ranks third in the nation for total milk production with more than 12 billion pounds produced annually from 627,000 dairy cows.

2008 Press Releases