“Where’s the Beef?”
Dairy Farmers left to fend for themselves while partisan politics delay the Farm Bill.
No emergency drought assistance forthcoming.
The drought pushed fifth-generation dairy farmer Mark Argall out of the business photo by Brandon Ancil/CNN
Small and medium sized dairy farms are barely hanging on, while some are selling off parts of their herd and others unwillingly going out of business, while Capitol Hill drags it feet in passing the omnibus Farm Bill.
The Obama administration earlier this month announced emergency drought assistance that included low-interest emergency loans; a federal buy-up of meat from livestock producers; and the opening up of some protected lands for livestock grazing.
None of those efforts are targeted at dairy farmers, however, dairy advocates say.
Farmers in southern Missouri are selling of dairy cows because their fields have dried up. photo by Brandon Ancil / CNN
Missouri’s governor, meanwhile, created a cost-share program to help farmers get access to water for their cattle, but McCallister said that’s more of a Band-Aid than a real solution.
Michael Scuse, under-secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said dairy farmers have not been offered enough of a safety net because Congress has not finalized an omnibus piece of legislation called the Farm Bill.
“Had we had a Farm Bill passed by now, there’s a very good chance we could offer some additional assistance” to dairy farmers who are struggling because of the drought, he said.
Several programs that deal with emergency assistance for livestock owners expired in September 2011; and an insurance program for livestock producers, which he said “never had adequate funding,” will be cut further in September and eliminated by October 1 unless new legislation is passed, he said.