Newsline: Washington Watch
Direct Subsidy Program ExtendedA bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced legislation in the House of Representatives to extend the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) for two more years. The direct subsidy program was created as part of the 2002 Farm Bill and is currently set to expire at the end of September 2005. Payments are calculated by taking 45 percent of the difference between $16.94/cwt and the monthly Boston Class I price on the first 2.4 million pounds of milk production from each farm per year. The pending legislation would not change the formulas or production caps used in the program. According to industry sources, dairy farmers have received approximately $1.8 billion under the program.
The House of Representatives has given overwhelming approval to The Child Nutrition Improvement and Integrity Act. In a 419-5 vote, lawmakers updated portions of the nation's various child nutrition programs, adding two major provisions that would increase milk's availabilities in public schools. At a time when soft drink sales in the nation's schools are under fire, this measure would allow schools more leeway to offer all varieties of milk in school cafeterias and vending machines. It would expressly prevent schools from signing agreements with soft drink companies that restrict milk sales. National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jerry Kozak said the House bill "takes a solid, science-based approach to crucial nutritional decisions regarding the next generation." The measure awaits action by the Senate.
The latest FDA National Milk Drug Residue Database reveals a sharp decline in the number of positive samples. FDA inspectors collected more than 4.3 million milk samples from farm tankers during the Fiscal Year 2003 reporting period, with .053% testing positive. Positive-testing milk was discarded before processing. FDA says most of the drugs found were penicillin-like animal drugs.