Thompson Tells Agriculture Subcommittee Hearing: Dairy Farmers Are Struggling

July 14, 2009
Press Release

Washington, D.C – U.S. Representative Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Howard, today told a House hearing on the dairy industry, “Our dairy farmers are struggling to stay open for business and I believe that Congress should be doing more to try and stabilize milk prices.   This hearing was long overdue, and I am pleased that the Committee is beginning to consider action on this important issue.”
The hearing was held by the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Dairy, Poultry and Livestock.  The purpose of the hearing was to review the economic conditions of the U.S. dairy industry.  Thompson is a Member of the Agriculture Committee but not of the Subcommittee.

For a variety of reasons - including decreased demand, decreased exports, increasing feed costs and unstable energy prices - the price of milk has dropped substantially in the past year.  For example, milk prices remained relatively stable at $18.41 per hundredweight (cwt) throughout 2008, yet for most of this year it has remained under $12 cwt.
“I was pleased to see Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack enact the Dairy Export Incentive Program (DEIP), and I would also support a temporary increase in MILC (Milk Income Loss Contract) payments to our dairy farmers,” Thompson said. “However, that does not go far enough, because I believe that some basic adjustments need to be made on the way milk is priced.  I was happy to take part in this critical hearing, and am anxious to work with my colleagues to find smart, practical solutions to stabilize these unsustainable milk prices.”

In addition to two Members of Congress and four industry representatives, Under Secretary of Agriculture, Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, James Miller, testified.  House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-MN, told the Subcommittee this would be the first of several hearings that the Committee would hold on the issue in the coming weeks.