I’ve spent this past week in Dallas at the 2009 NMPF annual meeting. One of our speakers was the Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Ag Services, Jim Miller. We were curious as to whether he would make some news about the timing and nature of the $350 million dairy aid package that Congress approved about a month ago. His answer: stay tuned.
Remember that Congress decided that $60 million of that sum would go to product purchases, i.e. cheese, while the remaining $290 million would be paid directly to producers. Miller said that while USDA wants to get the money out to farmers “as quickly as possible,” there’s what amounts to a bureaucratic process they have to follow. In fact, the Office of Management and Budget has to approve of the payment formula first, after USDA develops it.
Also, since it’s not likely they will use the same MILC formula that currently exists – owing to the controversy over MILC caps that’s long existed – the payment system will be somewhat different than what they’ve used in the past.
The other question we’re waiting on is when and how the cheese purchases will start, what types they’ll buy, and how they’ll then distribute it to needy citizens.
So the take-away is that the checks will be in the mail…but not until the Christmas cards are also joining them.
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