Lopez Calls On U.S. Senators, Congressional Delegation & Obama To Support Dairy Farmers With Stimulus Package

February 3, 2009
Assemblyman Pete Lopez (R, C, I – Schoharie) is calling on New York State’s Congressional Delegation, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, as well as President Obama to include dairy farmer assistance as part of the economic stimulus package being negotiated at the nation’s capital.

“Now is the time to act. Our dairy farmers are a vital part of our upstate economy. We cannot stand by and see farm families driven into bankruptcy,” said Assemblyman Lopez, who, as a member of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, has been a strong advocate of New York State’s dairy industry.

“NYFB welcomes Assemblyman Lopez’s initiative on this critical issue. Keeping local dairy farms in business in the middle of an economic crisis will be a key factor in keeping our local economies healthy,” said Julie Suarez, Director of Public Policy for the New York Farm Bureau.

Currently, President Obama’s economic stimulus package is weighing in at $825 billion, focusing on increased spending for health care, jobless benefits and social services. At the time of its passage in the House of Representatives, a number of members voted against the plan, citing the need to include more tax breaks and economic development initiatives to truly get the national economy back on track.

In New York State, these concerns are becoming more evident to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including Assemblyman Lopez who is urging for dairy aid to be included in the final federal package. “What we need to get our economy back on track are initiatives that help save our existing businesses. We are already seeing the milk industry take a disastrous downturn, which will devastate our farm families and the state’s economy,” stated Assemblyman Lopez.

It has recently been reported that with the economic downturn and the closing of European export markets, New York State dairy farmers are expecting huge losses in revenue. With supply greater than demand, dairy prices have already taken a sharp drop and economists expect those numbers to decline further. However, the cost of producing milk has not lessened, leaving many area farmers’ pockets empty or worse, forcing them into debt or insolvency.

Although the federal government has taken a look at protecting dairy farmers by enhancing the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program, lawmakers like Assemblyman Lopez say current aid levels will not be enough, covering only one month’s losses for many New York State farmers.

“Our dairy farmers cannot hold out for long,” concluded Assemblyman Lopez. “This is not an industry that can quickly bounce back. Washington must act decisively to ensure that the economic stimulus package helps New York’s dairy farm families remain important contributors to our communities and the state as a whole.”