Gillibrand asks USDA for dairy aid
May 16, 2018
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., on Tuesday called on Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to authorize immediately $300 million in emergency relief funding for dairy farmers that she said could result in an average payment of $8,000 per farmer in her state and across the country.
Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committeee, said farmers across New York are suffering from historically low dairy prices and are forced to shoulder an increasing amount of debt in order to continue operating their farms. The USDA has the authority to provide direct financial assistance to struggling agricultural industries and was used most recently in 2016 and 2018 to support and protect cotton farmers.
"Dairy farms are at the heart of New York's rural economy, but milk prices are so low that more than 1,200 dairy farms have shut down in just the last decade, and many more are on the brink of failing," Gillibrand wrote Perdue.
"This is a crisis right in our own backyard," Gillibrand said. "I'm calling on the USDA to immediately provide financial assistance to our dairy producers. I want this emergency funding to go directly to the farmers who need it, so they can keep producing milk without going bankrupt. The USDA should do the right thing and give our dairy farmers the help they need now."
Dairy farmers could receive $8,000 on average if the USDA complies with the request, she said. This funding would be paid directly to farmers as part of their milk check.
New York is the third-largest dairy producing state, with more than 4,400 dairies producing nearly 15 billion pounds of milk each year, Gillibrand noted.