Dairy farmers struggled through drought, now battle armyworms; will suffer without Farm Bill
Dairy farmers will lose up to 10 percent of their monthly income from milk beginning in October because the Milk Income Loss Contract expired when the Farm Bill wasn’t renewed on Sept. 30. MILC is a program that provides dairy farmers with payments when the price of producing milk is more than the price for which it’s sold.
MILC payouts were cut to 34 percent, from 45 percent, when the Farm Bill expired, Melissa Miller of the Southeast Missourian in Cape Girardeau reports. High feed and gas prices have forced farmers to sell their least productive cows to slaughter, and some small farmers are considering leaving the business. Miller writes that the armyworm is adding to farmers’ misery. The pest strips pasture grass, which often replaces expensive feed. Dairy Farmer John Schoen told Miller most farmers are likely losing $10,000 to $15,000 a month.
“Dairy is one of the few commodities that will get hit immediately by this [Farm Bill expiration] because we’re on a monthly schedule,” Jefferson County Farm Bureau president Michael Kiechle told Ted Booker of the Watertown Daily Times in far upstate New York. “We probably won’t get anything now until the crops go in the ground next spring.”
Commercial dairy farmers in Maine “depend on subsidies in the [Farm Bill] to help them get through tough times,” reports Jay Field of Maine Public Broadcasting. They are selling milk for less than it costs to produce it because of high gas and feed prices. One farmer told Field he will spend $6,000 more on fuel this year, and is barely covering operating costs right now.
Reprinted with permission from The Rural Blog. Article written by Ivy Brashear for The Rural Blog. Al Cross, former Courier-Journal political writer, is director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues and The Rural Blog.