Yesterday Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack met with more than a dozen members of Congress and evidently they came to an agreement to raise the support price for milk for dairy farmers. The official announcement from the USDA could come as early as this week, but definitely before Congress's August recess. Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy said, "We confirmed that we have an ally in Secretary Vilsack. There are obstacles to getting this done, but this was a strategy meeting, not just a discussion." Senator Feingold (D-WI) said that Vilsack was also willing to look into issues causing the dairy crisis—including corporate consolidation and price manipulation by dairy processors.
In related news, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) has requested an investigation into imports of Milk Protein Concentrate (MPC), which undercut American family dairy farmers.
Farm Aid has been working on the dairy crisis since late-winter, when our farmer hotline began ringing off the hook with calls from dairy farmers. The first six months of 2009 saw a 500% increase in calls to the hotline over the previous year—most of which can be attributed to the dairy crisis. So we're anxiously awaiting positive news here at the Farm Aid office—we'll keep you posted. Thanks again to the more than 13,000 Farm Aid supporters who helped us deliver petitions to the Secretary of Agriculture. Here's to (cautiously) hoping that we can all raise a glass of cool, farm-fresh milk soon to celebrate a positive first step (and really, this would just be the first step!) in keeping our dairy farmers on the land and producing family-farm milk for all of us.