WASHINGTON, DC — Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter today announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin distributing $290 million in direct payments to struggling dairy farmers. As a member of the Congressional Dairy Farmers Caucus, Congresswoman Shea-Porter cosigned a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack on November 19 urging the rapid release of these funds, and cosigned a letter to the Agriculture Appropriations conferees on September 14 urging them to include this funding in a final bill.
“I am pleased that the USDA has taken this step forward in helping our dairy farmers,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “At a time when the dairy industry in New Hampshire has been struggling, these funds will have an immediate positive effect.”
Eligible dairy producers will receive a one-time direct payment based on the amount of milk both produced and commercially marketed by their operation during the months of February through July 2009. A national per hundred weight payment rate will be determined by dividing the available funding of $290 million, less a reserve established by the Farm Service Agency (FSA), divided by the total pounds of eligible milk production approved for payment. This funding was a part of the Agriculture Appropriations Act, along with $60 million to allow for the purchase of cheese and other dairy products for food banks, which was signed into law by President Obama.