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The Pennsylvania Senate Committee is proposing a bill to support dairy farmers

HARRISBURG, PA – On Monday, the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Affairs unanimously approved a bill aimed at providing financial assistance to Pennsylvania dairy farmers. The legislation, sponsored by Sens. Elder Vogel Jr. (R-47) and Judy Schwank (D-11), aims to strengthen the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

Senate Bill 1229 would authorize the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to provide financial assistance to dairy producers who participated in the federal DMC program. The federal program, part of the 2018 Farm Bill, provides risk management coverage for dairy operations. It compensates producers when the margin between the national milk price and feed costs falls below a certain level.

“With June being National Dairy Month, there is no better time to show support for our dairy farmers than by passing our Dairy Margin Coverage Program legislation,” said Vogel, the committee majority chair. “In an industry full of uncertainty, it is important to offer our dairy farmers the certainty and stability they deserve when prices fall. Farmers are no strangers to managing risk, and Senate Bill 1229 will provide them with valuable options to protect themselves and their operations.”

Schwank, the committee’s minority chairman, emphasized the bill’s importance to the long-term viability of the dairy industry. “Senate Bill 1229 is an important part of the long-term sustainability of our dairy industry and provides an incentive for farmers to join the federal Dairy Margin Coverage Program,” she stated. “Dairy makes an important contribution to our Commonwealth’s robust agriculture sector, and this bill demonstrates our commitment to protecting the livelihoods of dairy farmers.”

The bill amends Title 3 (Agriculture) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes to include provisions for Dairy Margin Coverage Program financial assistance. It directs the Ministry of Agriculture to develop guidelines and establish eligibility criteria for the financial assistance, based on available funding.

Supporting Pennsylvania’s Dairy Industry: A Path to Stability and Growth

Dairy farming is a major economic driver in Pennsylvania, contributing billions to the state’s economy. However, the sector is facing volatility due to fluctuating milk prices and rising feed costs. The DMC program aims to mitigate these risks by providing financial protection to producers during periods of low margins.

Providing financial support at the state level could encourage more farmers to participate in the federal program, increasing its effectiveness. By supporting the dairy industry, the bill aims not only to stabilize farmers’ incomes, but also to maintain the viability of rural communities where dairy farming is a main occupation.

To the general public, this legislation signals a strong commitment to supporting local agriculture. Dairy products are a staple in many households, and ensuring the health of the dairy industry helps secure the food supply chain.

Senate Bill 1229 now awaits consideration by the full Senate. If passed, it could set a precedent for other states to follow, potentially leading to broader national support for dairy farmers.

The potential implications of this bill extend beyond immediate financial relief. By promoting a stable dairy industry, Pennsylvania can ensure continued investment in agricultural infrastructure, research and development. This in turn can lead to innovations that further improve the efficiency and sustainability of dairy farming.

In summary, Senate Bill 1229 represents a proactive approach to addressing the challenges dairy farmers face. With bipartisan support, it highlights the essential role of agriculture in Pennsylvania and underscores the need for measures that provide stability in an unpredictable market.

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