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Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee Examines Milk Marketing Law Reforms

Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee Examines Milk Marketing Law Reforms
 
HARRISBURG – The Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs examined proposed changes to the state’s milk marketing law today to ensure that dairy farmers receive over-order premiums, according to Committee Chairman Sen. Mike Brubaker (R-36).
 
The committee discussed Senate Bill 1480, Brubaker’s proposal to ensure that the 27-cent over-order premium paid by consumers for each gallon of milk sold in Pennsylvania reaches dairy farmers. The premium is intended to be paid to dairy farmers for each gallon of milk produced, processed and sold in Pennsylvania, but a large portion of the premium paid by consumers is not being paid to dairy farmers.
 
The committee was scheduled to vote on Senate Bill 1480 today, but the vote was postponed due to concerns expressed by members of the committee about the complexity of the issue and the limited number of session days remaining on the legislative calendar.
 
“I am disappointed that we could not bring this issue to a vote,” Brubaker said. “It is my intention to amend the milk marketing law to ensure that over-order premiums find their way into the pockets of dairy farmers as the law intended, and we will continue to listen to all interested parties so we can make the necessary changes to improve the process as soon as possible.”
 
The committee has held several public hearings to examine the dairy crisis over the past 10 months. Brubaker said that if he is appointed to serve as committee chairman again next year, reforming the milk marketing law will be one of the first items on the committee’s agenda in 2011.
 
In lieu of a vote on Senate Bill 1480, the committee invited any interested parties to offer comments on the proposal to provide additional information to members of the committee.
 
Former Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Dennis Wolff said that there is no question that the state’s milk marketing law needs to be changed to provide more money to producers. He said that last year between $15 million and $25 million in over-order premiums paid by consumers did not reach dairy farmers.
 
Representatives of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and several dairy producers spoke in favor of the proposal and urged the committee to take prompt action to improve the law. Representatives of dairy cooperatives expressed willingness to work toward ensuring that dairy farmers receive a larger portion of over-order premiums as well.
 
Audio of the committee meeting is available online at senatorbrubaker.com.
 
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