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Schumer in Cayuga County: ‘Dairy cliff’ ahead if federal program expires

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was in the Auburn-area on Wednesday warning that the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program, a lifeline for Central New York dairy farmers faces expiration. This impending expiry threatens to plunge farmers into a “dairy cliff”, causing potential hardships for both farmers and consumers.

He visited Cayuga Milk Ingredients, a staple in the Central New York dairy economy.

DiSanto Propane (Billboard)

Implemented through the 2018 Farm Bill, the DMC offers crucial monthly price support payments to dairy farmers from federal sources. If not extended, the program’s termination in September could lead to decreased support for farmers, serious supply chain disruptions, and a surge in milk prices, Schumer explained.

To counter this impending crisis, Schumer is initiating a campaign to safeguard this program as Congress commences negotiations for this year’s farm bill, striving to ensure that Upstate New York dairy farmers have the requisite support and safety net.

Echoing Schumer’s concerns, Cayuga County Farm Bureau President Jon Patterson and Cayuga County Legislature Chair David Gould underscored the importance of the DMC. They stressed its pivotal role in providing critical price support for the dairy industry, especially given the volatility of milk prices. Mayor of Auburn Michael Quill also acknowledged the grave consequences of the “Dairy Cliff” scenario, including potentially skyrocketing dairy prices and scarcity of dairy products in stores.

The dairy industry is vital to New York’s agricultural economy, with the state being the nation’s fourth largest dairy state, housing 3,600 dairy farms producing over 15 billion pounds of milk annually. The DMC’s expiration would not only impact farmer payments but could also cause market disruption, spike consumer prices, and lead to avoidable increases in government spending. To circumvent this, Schumer urged Congress to reauthorize the programs in the 2023 Farm Bill, emphasizing that such bipartisan collaboration has always been the norm. If the bill isn’t passed and the DMC allowed to lapse, the repercussions could be severe, reverting to antiquated 1940s agriculture policies, destabilizing prices, and leading to significant avoidable government expenditure.