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Pa. dairy farmers to get help for low milk prices

December 22, 2009

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Pennsylvania's dairy farmers will get temporary relief from low milk prices thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's release of $290 million for loss assistance payments, Gov. Edward G. Rendell said Monday.

The Dairy Economic Loss Assistance Program, or DELAP, will provide a one-time payment to eligible producers based on the amount of milk both produced and commercially marketed by their operation from February to July 2009.

"Many of Pennsylvania's 8,600 dairy farmers face significant financial problems, having a negatively impact on our communities and our economy," Rendell said. "I commend USDA and Congress for taking quick action to develop this new program that will help to stabilize dairy operations and place them in a better financial position entering 2010."

In November, Rendell sent letters to USDA and Congress urging the speedy release of funding authorized under the 2010 federal agriculture appropriations bill, as part of comprehensive dairy reform. Rendell has also requested that the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board explore ways to increase milk profits for Pennsylvania dairy producers.

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Payments from the DELAP program will be calculated based on production information from the six-month period and will be used to estimate a full year's production for an operation, using a six-million-pound-per-dairy operation limit.

Dairy farmers' production records with the USDA Farm Service Agency, or FSA, county offices will automatically be calculated to issue payments. Those farmers who have not provided production information to FSA have until Jan. 19, to apply for the program.

For more information and eligibility requirements for the DELAP program, visit an FSA county office or go to www.fsa.usda.gov.

Pennsylvania's dairy industry, as its largest agricultural sector, supports more than 40,000 jobs and contributes more than $4 billion annually to the state's economy. For more information, go to www.agriculture.state.pa.us.

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