Sanders Announces Extension to Margin Protection Program

BURLINGTON, Vt., June 13 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement after the U.S Department of Agriculture extended the deadline to enroll in the Margin Protection Program until June 22. 

“While far from a perfect solution, the Margin Protection Program may help many of Vermont’s farmers who have been struggling with years of low milk prices. That’s why I signed a bipartisan letter to the U.S. Agricultural Secretary with several of my Senate colleagues, asking for an extension in the enrollment period. Currently, 540 Vermont farmers have signed up. I am hoping the additional time will give more farms in Vermont an opportunity to take advantage of the program. Ultimately, however, we need to find a long-term solution to stabilize dairy prices by managing the supply of milk.
“I am deeply concerned that nearly a third of Vermont’s dairy farms have gone out of business in the last decade. Dairy farms are an important part of our state’s economy, contributing $2.2 billion in economic activity each year and sustaining almost 7,000 jobs.  They are also an integral part of our rural tradition and help maintain the beautiful landscapes that define rural Vermont. 

“What’s happening right now to dairy farmers should be of concern to everyone in Vermont. These are our neighbors and our friends, and they work harder than almost anyone I know to produce quality agricultural products.  They deserve to earn a fair price for their milk. 

“But the reality is that the price of milk has been below the cost production for two years now.  Thankfully, the recent budget bill included improvements to an important dairy insurance program, the Margin Protection Program. While MPP will provide much needed relief for some Vermont farmers, ultimately we need a long-term solution to ensure all dairy farmers get a fair price for their milk.  To my mind, that has got to include managing the supply of milk to stabilize dairy prices.”

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