This report on the effects of oversupply in the US milk market and other milk markets reminds us of a joke we once heard in Hilmar, a local dairy center. The dairyman watched the price of milk slide and slide until finally the milk price was zero.
"Good time to buy cows," he said.
On the other hand, perhaps the Democrats have found another tree to shake. After all, not all dairymen go broke when the milk price tanks.
POLITICO's Morning Agriculture: Lawmakers call for dairy industry rescue — Four days until 'Big First' primary — CDC official
With help from Ian Kullgren and Helena Bottemiller Evich
LAWMAKERS CALL FOR DAIRY INDUSTRY RESCUE: Less than two months after the USDA spent $300 million to help the struggling cotton industry, another sector is in need of some relief. A bipartisan group of more than 60 lawmakers is asking the USDA to provide emergency financial assistance to the dairy industry amid depressed market prices, which are mainly the result of oversupply in the U.S., the European Union and countries in other parts of the world. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack should use his authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation and look to past precedent to decide what action to take, according to the Thursday letter from the Hill contingent, which includes the likes of Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Reps. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Chris Collins (R-N.Y.). They noted producers are still adjusting to the new margin insurance program in the 2014 farm bill - and industry officials have separately said it hasn't provided enough protection during the glut.
"We encourage USDA to take any and all actions available in order to make an immediate market injection and offer financial assistance that will directly support U.S. dairy farmers equally, while being cautious to not stimulate overproduction further," the lawmakers wrote.
In the past, the USDA has addressed economic setbacks in the dairy industry by purchasing surpluses, for example; but the secretary has multiple options to review before deciding what approach will have the best results for producers, said Leahy spokesman David Carle. A USDA spokesperson said in an email the department is focused on implementing the available safety net enacted in the 2014 farm bill, and "will do everything we can within our authorities to make sure our dairy producers have a strong, effective safety net, in addition to expanded market opportunities domestically and abroad."
Europe has its own dairy woes. Earlier this month, the European Commission announced it was infusing 500 million euros into its dairy sector due to tanking prices. The commission for more than a year has tried to solve the crisis, which was triggered by events like the end of milk quotas last year and the Russian ban on EU food imports. The shift away from production quotas was supposed to allow farmers to be more market-oriented and grow their business, but instead has lead to overproduction. POLITICO Europe had the scoop.
Europe offers €500 million to help dairy farmers
Producers are counting on yet another Commission aid package to keep them in business.