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Reps. Courtney, DeLauro Meet with Dairy Farmers at Greenbacker Farm

July 1, 2009
Press Release

Durham, CT – Representatives Joe Courtney (CT-02) and Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) focused on the plight of Connecticut’s dairy farmers during a tour of the Greenbacker Dairy farm and discussion with Connecticut dairy farmers and agriculture specialists from the University of Connecticut and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Connecticut’s dairy farms are facing unprecedented challenges, including rapidly declining milk prices that have fallen far below production costs. The dairy farmers explained to both Representatives that that if action is not taken on behalf of dairy farmers, within 12 months they will not be able to financially survive.

“Federal dairy policies must be reformed – a fact that was reinforced today when I met with some of our state’s dairy farmers. These farmers are working over 100 hours a week, yet continue to lose money. We need to look at what changes we can make at the federal level, such as re-evaluating the federal milk order pricing system to consider production costs when setting milk prices. While modifying this equation would not have an immediate impact on the supply and demand volatility of dairy, it would stabilize dairy farmers’ prices and provide them with much more economic certainty. This is about people’s livelihoods and generations of dairy farmers in Connecticut,” said DeLauro.

Representative Courtney stated, “Dairy farmers have a long history of providing for the communities of eastern Connecticut, but they have recently been confronted with historically low milk prices. To aid our dairy farmers, I am leading an effort in Washington to reconvene the bipartisan Dairy Caucus to educate legislators on the issues of dairy farmers and provide much needed assistance.”

“The Connecticut Dairy Industry is an economic engine unto itself, contributing more than $1 Billion dollars of positive economic impact to Connecticut's economy. It is also an essential part of the critical mass that keeps the Agricultural Infrastructure in place that all Connecticut Farmers depend upon to produce local agricultural products. On behalf of the thousands of Connecticut Farm Bureau Members, I would like to thank Reps. Courtney and DeLauro for their attention to this problem and look forward to working with them to correct this difficult situation.” Don Tuller, President Connecticut Farm Bureau Association.

The Congressional Dairy Caucus was created during the 110th Congress in advance of the most recent Farm Bill but was not registered at the beginning of the 111th Congress. The Caucus will help to educate members and their staff on issues of concern to the dairy industry while also helping to build consensus on legislation impacting the dairy industry. Additionally, the Caucus will work with industry leaders, dairy economists, and most importantly, farmers and distributors to reach common sense bipartisan solutions to address the current dairy crisis. Rep. Courtney will serve as co-chair of the newly reformed caucus.

Representatives Courtney and DeLauro are strong advocates for dairy farmers. Recently Rep. Courtney introduced a resolution in support of dairy farmers supported by 84 bipartisan cosponsors, including Rep. DeLauro. Rep. Courtney’s resolution seeks to raise awareness about the important role that dairy farmers play in communities across our nation. Additionally, the resolution calls attention to the challenges faced by dairy farmers across the country, who continue to struggle with sharp declines in market prices that have forced many farms to shutdown.

The Greenbacker family has been farming in CT since 1723. The farm is run by Joe Greenbacker, his wife Lois, daughter Melissa and David, Joe’s brother. The Greenbacker farm currently milks 160 cows and produces 1300 gallons of milk per day. The farm spans 450 acres in size and in attempt to diversify during these difficult times 185 acres are used for corn crop and 250 acres for hay.