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U. S. Lawmakers Seek Dairy Subsidy Boost

The leaders of a Dairy Farmers Caucus in the U. S. House said July 29 they sought a $211-million increase in U. S. dairy subsidies to offset the lowest market prices in three decades.

The money would flow through an increase in the payment formula for the Milk Income Loss Contract subsidy, which is based on the price for “fresh” milk bound for sale in supermarkets.

Peter Welch, Vermont Democrat, said MILC payment rates should be increased for the rest of 2009. Joe Courtney, Connecticut Democrat, said budgetary offset had not been found yet that would allow the increase.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold wrote the White House budget office to encourage the administration to increase dairy support prices. “We strongly encourage your work toward that end,” said their letter.

At a news conference, some members of the dairy caucus urged the administration to extend a dairy export subsidy program.

Besides higher support prices, USDA officials have said they may make credit programs available to dairy farmers to restructure their debts.

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