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Local dairy producers receive much-needed aid

Local dairy producers receive much-needed aid

The increase in prices through the Dairy Product Price Support Program is a welcome relief to many local dairy farmers.


POSTED July 31, 2009 10:47 p.m.
Cries for help from local dairy producers were answered this week when the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it would be increasing prices through the Dairy Product Price Support Program. Price support payments for nonfat dry milk and cheddar blocks and barrels were increased for the first time in nearly three decades.
“This morning we thanked (U.S. Agriculture) Secretary Vilsack for updating the dairy support price so that it includes the current cost of production, not the cost paid by producers more than 30 years ago,” said Joaquin Contente, president of the California Farmer’s Union.
According to the California Dairy Campaign, the average cost of production for California dairy producers is $18 per hundredweight. Until Friday’s DPPSP increase, the average producer price was $9.90 per hundredweight.
The increases in prices paid through DPPSP go into affect immediately. The price paid for nonfat dry milk was increased from $0.80 per pound to $0.92 per pound. The price paid for cheddar blocks was increased from $1.13 per pound to $1.31 per pound, and the price per pound of cheddar barrels rose from $1.10 to $1.28.
Contente said that this a a good start towards correcting dairy producers’ financial problems, but that more needs to be done to help California dairy producers. He said that the current economic crisis is hitting dairy farmers particularly hard, and that it in turn is affecting other dairy related businesses such as feed and hay sellers, veterinarians, and supply companies.
“This announcement is a step in the right direction, but it isn’t far enough,” Contente said.
In addition to the increase in support prices, the government will also be purchasing 150 million pounds of non-fat dry milk and 75 million pounds of cheese. The USDA estimates that these price changes will increase all milk prices received by dairy producers by $1 and will increase dairy farmers’ revenue by $243 million throughout the United States.
Members of Congress have been lobbying Secretary Vilsack to increase the prices paid through DPPSP. The California Dairy Campaign has also been organizing California dairy producers and consumers to write letters to Vilsack and the House and Senate agricultural committees to raise the dairy product support price.
“The democratic process is still alive. We did get a response,” Contente said.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail agoodwin@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.
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