A bi-partisan group of dairy state lawmakers is pushing a measure through the U.S. Senate to double the size of the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) subsidy, which provides payments to producers when milk prices fall. Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), the measure's co-sponsors, say it would extend MILC through September 2007 and increase the cap to 4.8 million gallons per year. Coleman says the measure has quickly gained support in the Senate - and beyond.
"I was pleased when President Bush endorsed extension of the Milk Income Loss Compensation law, or MILC, last year," Coleman said. "The 2002 Farm Bill provides a safety net to most farm families through 2007 and we need to ensure that MILC, which provided Minnesota dairy farmers with critical help during record low prices in 2002 and 2003, stays in effect at least through 2007."
But dairy processors are lining up against the measure, calling it "an expensive and divisive" program that already costs too much. "Making MILC bigger won't make it better, but it will make it even costlier," said Chip Kunde, senior vice president of the International Dairy Foods Association. "At a time when the nation needs to hold the budgetary line, this legislation would pour billions of dollars in new spending into a program that just doesn't work as national dairy policy."
In March, Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY) and 23 co-sponsors introduced similar legislation in the House.
President Bush has turned to an agency insider to head up the Environmental Protection Agency in his second term. Bush tapped Stephen L. Johnson, who has served at EPA for 24 years, to become the next EPA Administrator. In submitting Johnson's nomination to the Senate, Bush called him "a talented scientist and skilled manager with a lifelong commitment to environmental stewardship."
FDA has issued a health advisory, warning that some soft cheeses made with raw milk pose a health risk to pregnant women, newborns, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. The agency says raw milk soft cheeses can cause several serious infectious diseases including listeriosis, brucellosis, salmonellosis and tuberculosis. Recently, cases of tuberculosis in New York City have been linked to consumption of queso fresco style cheeses, either imported from Mexico or consumed in Mexico, contaminated with Mycobacterium bovis, the causative agent.