Yesterday the Senate Agriculture Committee voted 11-to-9 to approve a package that includes $3 billion in spending cuts for farm and conservation programs but kept alive the Milk Income Loss Contract program.

The spending cuts were achieved by cutting payments to farmers by 2.5 percent. The cuts are across the board for all programs – commodity crops, dairy. In addition spending for future conservation reserve programs, through 2010, was reduced. But payments for current long-term contracts of land set aside for conservation were not altered.

The MILC program, although included in the package, is at a reduced funding rate of just $998 million. That’s about a 25 percent cut in overall funding. Plus, producers’ payments, when they occur, will also be reduced by the aforementioned 2.5 percent across the board payment cut. The legislation extends the MILC program through Sept. 30, 2007.

It’s not a done deal yet. The revival of the MILC program – as well as the 2.5 percent payments cuts on all producer payments -- will still have to pass in the full Senate and in the House. 

For more details from the St. Cloud Times, go to:

Washington Post, St. Cloud Times