HARTFORD — Help could be on the way for Connecticut dairy farms struggling to make ends meet because of the costs associated with producing milk, Rep. John Rigby said at the Capitol today. Rigby this evening supported a proposal that would create an “agricultural sustainability account,” a fund the state’s Commissioner of Agriculture would rely upon to make quarterly payments aimed at helping dairy farms throughout the state cover shortfalls that could force them to shutter their businesses. An amendment to S.B. 891, An Act Modernizing Connecticut Fertilizer Law, previously received approval from the state senate, sending it to the House for a vote. Rigby and his colleagues there approved the bill 133 to 16.
Here’s the problem for dairy farmers: They sell every gallon of milk at a substantial loss. The price farmers are paid for the milk they produce is fixed federally, but their cost to produce a gallon is roughly double that amount.
Under the proposal adopted Wednesday, throughout the state municipal clerks for a two-year period would receive a greater fee for the recording of municipal land records. A portion of that money would go toward a newly-created agricultural sustainability account created by the same legislation. Dairy producers would be entitled to the difference between the monthly federal pay price and the minimum sustainable monthly cost of production, multiplied by the amount of milk they produce that month. The program would end July 1, 2011.
“A lot of dairy farms in this state can’t hang on much longer, and this bill gives them the guaranteed support they desperately need,” said Rigby, who went on to describe the trickle-down tendencies of agribusiness.
“This is an economic development proposal that helps many areas of the state, the Northwest Corner included,” he said. “If farming dries up, everyone from the auto parts store to feed and fertilizer suppliers will get nicked.”
The legislation adopted today by the General Assembly moves to Rell for consideration.