Calif. dairymen urge lawmakers to pass farm bill

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The clock is ticking for the farm bill, and in California a group of dairy farmers met with two lawmakers on Thursday to discuss efforts being made to pass the bill before the end of the year.

U.S. Representatives Jim Costa (D-Calif.) and Colin Peterson (D-Minn.) spoke with the dairy farmers on Thursday, according to a report by KSFN-TV. 

“We have only three weeks left of session. We're working very hard in these last three weeks as a part of an overhaul agreement to produce a farm bill. We're not there yet. But we're close,” said Costa said in the interview.

Click the video player above to watch more of the interview.

Last month, Peterson, the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, expressed his frustration over not getting a farm bill done. 

“If they are going to dillydally around and not get this thing done, I am ready for permanent law and I am ready for $38 milk (on) Jan. 1,” Peterson said during an interview with AgriTalk radio. (His reference to $38 milk was based on the premise that unless a new farm bill is passed, the U.S. will revert to a 1949 law that bases dairy price supports on parity.) 

Though frustrated, Peterson remained hopeful that Congressional leaders would tackle the farm bill by the end of the year. See “‘If they are going to dillydally… I am ready for $38 milk’” for the full interview audio.

California dairies, in particular, have faced a challenging year due to high feed costs, not enough time to recover from the disastrous year of 2009, and the state’s milk-pricing system. An estimated 100 dairies in the state are expected to go out of business by the end of 2012.  

Dairymen rallied for changes to the state’s 4b pricing formula, but their request for a hearing to amend this formula was denied in late November. Rob Vandenheuvel, general manager of the Milk Producers Council in Ontario, Calif., told Dairy Herd Network that an improved formula would have made a difference this year for the state’s dairy industry. Read more.

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