This vote was on an amendment calling for a study on changing the way the price of milk is determined in the United States.
Sen. Olympia Snowe (D-ME) offered the amendment during consideration of a bill that authorizes federal programs that assist farmers and low-income Americans. Sen. Snowe’s amendment would require the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to produce a study on changes to its Depression-era program that sets a minimum price for milk. Under the program, the USDA uses a formula to set the minimum price a dairy farmer can receive for raw milk. The program is aimed at making the price of milk more stable and providing a safety net for dairy farmers.
Supporters of Sen. Snowe’s amendment argued that there is not enough transparency in the formulas used to calculate the price of milk. Small dairy farmers are hurt most by unpredictable prices, she said, and her amendment would allow the USDA to explore other, and perhaps more efficient, ways of helping the dairy industry.
“For years, New York’s dairy farms have endured volatility in the market – as feed and fuel costs rise, the price of milk plummeted,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said. “When our family farms suffer, our whole state and whole economy suffer. Our farmers deserve a better, more just pricing system.”
No senators spoke out in opposition to Sen. Snowe’s amendment.
Sen. Snowe’s amendment was approved by a vote of 66-33. Voting “yea” were 44 Democrats, including a majority of progressives, and 22 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 24 Republicans and 9 Democrats. As a result, the Senate moved forward with legislation calling for a study on changing the way the price of milk is determined in the United States.