Milk Commission committed to farmer "safety net"

The Vermont Milk Commission made public its decisions and findings last month at a joint meeting so the House and Senate Legislative Agricultural Committees at the Vermont Statehouse. But this is not the end of the Milk Commissions work. The Milk Commission will aggressively continue to work on the design, legal formulation and implementation of a safety net program for dairy farmers in Vermont. The beginning proposal for this safety net has a three-pronged approach to build a fund that will be available when milk prices decline, as we know they will. The three prongs to build the fund include a premium on milk for use in fluid bottling at the farm gate, dairy farmer contributions in times of high milk prices and donations by businesses and the general public that support dairy agriculture in Vermont. Vermont has a long history of supporting agriculture and the working landscape, said Roger Allbee, secretary of agriculture and chairperson of the Milk Commission. I am encouraged that there is keen interest in such an approach. The Milk Commission is working on the legal structure for the premium from processors, the price levels affecting dairy farmer contributions, how to generate interest and support from the business community and the general public to build this fund. The Milk Commission is also investigating the farmer payment program when milk prices drop below a certain level. The timeline for completion and implementation of this safety net has been established and will take place mid year in 2008. The Milk Commission members understand the complexity of building a safety net and take seriously their commitment to formulate and implement this program while milk prices are relatively strong for dairy producers. The schedule for Milk Commission meetings is as follows: Feb. 19 and 26, March 5 and 18, April 23, May 7 and June 24. These meetings are open to the public and there will be specific meetings for public comment on the draft program prior to implementation.

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