Falling off the ‘dairy cliff’? Schumer visits Lisbon farm to promote program

Published: Aug. 1, 2023 at 5:34 PM EDT
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LISBON, New York (WWNY) - Will we fall off the “dairy cliff”? U.S. Senator Charles Schumer wants to prevent it.

The Dairy Margin Coverage program helps New York farmers handle the ups and downs of producing dairy products. It was created in 2018 by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D. - NY).

“It gives monthly payments to our dairy farmers to make up the differences for the price of milk and feed. It’s a lifeline to our farmers, but if Congress doesn’t pass it, it could expire. That would mean our farmers would go over the dairy cliff,” said Schumer.

So what is the dairy cliff? Schumer says that along with the stopping of payments by the government to farmers when times are tough, consumers would see a drastic jump in both the price and lack of available dairy products at their local stores.

“It would also cause huge supply chain disruptions. That would make milk less available in stores, so there would be an increase, not only in milk but in all kinds of dairy products,” said Schumer.

Third-generation dairy farmer Eric Fonda says the program can provide up to 10% of his monthly income at Keystone Dairy in Lisbon.

“The milk that left my farm this morning, I won’t see a paycheck for that for 30 days. That’s another reason why the DMC program is very helpful. It at least helps offset some of the shortfalls economically for us,” he said.

The program is set to spoil on September 30 unless it can be incorporated into the 2023 Farm Bill.

“Whether it’s St. Lawrence, Lewis, or Jefferson County, dairy farmers, or farming in general - are economic engines of the time. You’d be pretty hard-pressed to find somebody that doesn’t work at a processing plant or work at one of the many support industries that their income is directly derived through agriculture one way or another,” said Fonda.

Schumer says his office will look to push through the Dairy Margin Coverage program even if it is not a part of this year’s Farm Bill.