A Toast to Vermont

Capping months of effort by the Vermont congressional delegation, the basic safety net for dairy farmers when milk prices plummet became law Thursday afternoon when the Senate joined House of Representatives in overriding President Bush's veto of a new five-year Farm Bill. Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch toasted the victory in the U.S. Capitol with champagne glasses of milk, a tradition that has accompanied the delegation's earlier victories on dairy supp

Capping months of effort by the Vermont congressional delegation, the basic safety net for dairy farmers when milk prices plummet became law Thursday afternoon when the Senate joined House of Representatives in overriding President Bush's veto of a new five-year Farm Bill. Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch toasted the victory in the U.S. Capitol with champagne glasses of milk, a tradition that has accompanied the delegation's earlier victories on dairy support programs. Sanders said, "At a time when family farmers are struggling, and the cost of grain and fuel is soaring, this is enormously important. Not only is this a step forward for family farmers in Vermont and around this country, but a huge step forward for nutrition and addressing the growing hunger problems in America. I thank Senator Leahy for his work on the Agricultural Committee."

The extension and expansion of the MILC Program, including a new "feed cost adjuster" that for the first time will also take into account dairy farmers' rising production costs, was engineered in the Senate Agriculture Committee by Leahy, and Sanders and Welch worked closely with Leahy in building a bipartisan and multi-regional coalition of support for the plan.

Leahy said, "This is a milestone moment for several key Vermont priorities, from our dairy farms to our community food pantries to cleaning up Lake Champlain. The dairy safety net is secure and it's stronger than before, and that will help Vermont's farmers plan for the future."

Welch said, "The MILC provision becoming law is a major win for Vermont and provides a critical safety net for our farmers. Our delegation's commitment and teamwork to secure this dairy provision has paid off."