Governor Doyle: Statement of Governor Doyle on Federal Cuts to Dairy Programs

Anne Lupardus, Office of the Governor, 608-261-2162

President’s Budget Proposes Tax on Dairy Farmers and

Reduces Two Dairy Price Support Programs

Governor Doyle made the following statement in response to President Bush’s proposed budget, released Monday, that calls for a three cent tax per hundredweight of milk, changes the way the Department of Agriculture sets dairy support prices, and proposes a five percent cut to all crop payments, including the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program:

“As Governor of Wisconsin – a state where farming and agriculture is not just what we do, but who we are – I am outraged at the severe budget cuts that the President has proposed. Instead of continuing to support the great progress our farmers have had in growing their industry, these cuts attack our dairy farmers from every side.

“Dairy means more to Wisconsin than oranges do to Florida or potatoes do to Idaho. Wisconsin’s dairy industry accounts for more than $20 billion annually, compared with Florida’s citrus industry at $9 billion or Idaho’s potato growers at less than $3 billion. If the President’s proposed budget had been in place in 2005, it would have cost Wisconsin dairy families almost $7 million – putting many family farms out of business and hitting local economies hard.

“Our dairy farmers are making progress with good prices, but they cannot continue to do so without some help and support. They face rising equipment, land, and fuel costs, and programs like MILC are not only safety nets for so many local farms, but also for their surrounding communities to whom they have close economic ties.

“The President stood before Wisconsin farmers in 2004 and guaranteed support for them and continuation of the MILC program. He has clearly gone back on this promise. I strongly urge Congress to stand behind dairy farmers in Wisconsin and across the nation, and undo these senseless cuts.

“Continuation of dairy support programs is a watershed event. It will determine who farms in the future, how we farm, and whether our dairy farmers will see hope or further erosion.”