February 06, 2009

Idaho Delegation Seeks Help For Dairy Producers

Writes Agriculture Secretary saying existing programs can help

Washington, DC - Idaho's Congressional Delegation has written U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to urge assistance for the Idaho dairy industry through enhanced utilization of existing federal programs. Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and Representatives Mike Simpson and Walt Minnick say Idaho dairy producers have seen steep drops in the price they receive for dairy products and that a review of existing programs is needed to ensure they are best utilized or improved to enable dairy producers and processors to weather the current difficulty.

"Employing more than 26,000 individuals, Idaho's dairy industry is an essential part of Idaho's economy," the Delegation writes in the letter to Secretary Vilsack. "Unfortunately, high input costs, declining prices and decreased demand have significantly impacted the stability of the dairy industry. Dairy prices have fallen below the level needed by producers to cover operating costs, and numerous producers are operating at a considerable loss. Dairy producers and processors are working to address these complications. However, price declines have outpaced solutions. Without immediate action to assist the industry, jobs and dairy operations could be lost.

The Delegation included the following suggestions that could be of assistance:
• Enabling timely purchasing of dairy products through the Dairy Product Price Support Program (DPPSP) through coordinating of packaging standards and timely grading and inspections
• Converting government dairy stock into consumer friendly dairy products and providing price premiums for value added consumer ready products through U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrition programs
• Utilizing programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to increase conservation efforts by targeting assistance and using the maximum cost-share
• Defending U.S. producers against unfair trade actions by utilizing the Dairy Export Incentive Program (DEIP)
• Implementing the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels to assist producers with broadening the production of advanced biofuels

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a number of programs that if utilized appropriately can provide a much needed boost for the dairy industry during this time of considerable turmoil," the Delegation added. "We encourage you to analyze USDA's programs, apply them appropriately, and identify any limitations in authority and legislative reforms that may be needed to better assist the dairy community."