The U.S. House Wednesday approved the omnibus farm bill including a new program to help dairy farmers.
The old farm bill had a direct subsidy program that kicked in when milk prices fell, but it often was not enough for farmers to make ends meet. Farmers were hoping for a stabilization program that would limit milk production, but Republicans refused to go along. Instead the bill contains an insurance program negotiated by Sen. Patrick Leahy that will help protect farmers against swings in feed and milk prices.
"Vermont dairy is going to be better off than it was before. It's not everything we wanted, but there's going to be more price stability and it's going to be fair to farmers and fair to taxpayers," said Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont.
Welch says the farm bill also includes important provisions for organic farmers and vegetable farmers in Vermont.
The farm bill also includes an $8 billion cut in food stamps funding that will hit recipients in Vermont. But Welch notes that Republicans had been seeking a $40 billion cut.
Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, says he's proud of the work the Congressional delegation has done to bring Vermont a sensible farm bill. He says the insurance part of the bill is very smart piece of legislation that was developed mostly by Vermont dairy farmers.