Senator Guglielmo Praises Senate Passage of Measure to Help Dairy Farmers

June 2, 2009

Calls on the House to do the same before the close of session on Wednesday

Legislation co-sponsored by state Senator Tony Guglielmo, R-Stafford, to help the financially strapped dairy farm industry in Connecticut has unanimously passed the senate. The measure, which will provide assistance to over 150 dairy farms, will help bring millions of dollars to the state’s economy by keeping local farms operational while at the same time protecting valuable open space land.

“Over the past 25 years, Connecticut has lost hundreds of dairy farms, nearly two dozen in the past three years alone, and the evidence is clear that once they are gone they are not coming back,” said Sen. Guglielmo. “Without state assistance the industry cannot survive. I am very pleased that the senate made this a priority before the end of the legislative session. It is my hope that the House of Representatives will recognize the importance of this matter and pass this legislation.”

According to Sen. Guglielmo, whose district includes a number of dairy farms, the federal government sets the price of milk and currently that price is at levels more appropriate for the early 1990’s. This puts dairy farmers in Connecticut at a disadvantage because federal regulations and pricing systems do not take into account the challenges of the small scale dairy farmer in the northeast. Instead, pricing systems are geared more towards the large scale producers in the midwest and other parts of the country.

The bill that passed the senate today creates an Agricultural Sustainability Grant Program and states that for each month the federal price is below the minimum sustainable monthly cost of production, the milk producer shall be entitled to assistance. The Commissioner of Agriculture shall make grants to such milk producers on a quarterly basis should the price of milk remain at unsustainable levels.

“This measure is intended to help offset the high costs that have placed a heavy burden on our state’s dairy farmers,” said Sen. Guglielmo. “We have made an extraordinary effort to encourage consumers to buy Connecticut grown products. This will certainly go a long way towards that goal, but more importantly will help an important industry in Connecticut survive.”