Wautoma, WI
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Tuesday...Temperatures will range from a high of 25 to a low of 19 degrees with partly cloudy skies. Winds will range between 5 and 8 miles per hour from the southsoutheast. No precipitation is expected.
Overnight ...Temperatures will remain steady at 20 degrees with partly cloudy skies. Winds will remain steady around 7 miles per hour from the south. No precipitation is expected.
Wednesday...Temperatures will range from a high of 32 to a low of 20 degrees with mostly cloudy skies. Winds will range between 9 and 14 miles per hour from the southsoutheast. No precipitation is expected.

Vilsack: MILC payments will be processed ‘soon’

May 9, 2013 | 0 comments


In Madison Tuesday to present a grant award, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told Wisconsin State Farmer that Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) payments to dairy farmers would begin to be processed "very soon."

Dairy farmers - stressed by drought-trimmed feed supplies and in many cases winter-killed alfalfa and a slow spring that hasn’t produced much feed yet - have been waiting for MILC payments for months.

These government program payments for conditions of high-priced feed and low milk prices could help some, as many dairy farmers scramble to cover the cost of yet more purchased hay.

Questions at local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices and at the state FSA level have been referred to Washington officials, who have not offered any answers.

During a press conference following his visit at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, Vilsack said that the sequester budget cuts that Congress allowed to go forward put a halt to all payment programs at his agency.

"It was unknown how deep the cuts would be and we decided we didn’t want to send out checks to producers and then later have to ask producers to return them," he said.

The sequester brought with it a 2.6 percent cut at USDA in addition to other budget cuts the agency had already taken.

Vilsack said the agency now has $1 billion less in its budget than it did when he became secretary at the beginning of the Obama administration.

Now that the extent of the cuts are known and can be managed, the system that sends payments to farmers "can be turned back on," Vilsack said.

It isn’t just MILC payments, but all producer payments in government programs that have been halted to this point.

"We didn’t want to get into the situation of having to ask 300,000 producers to return checks."

Vilsack said the FSA would begin processing these government program payments "very soon."

Brad Pfaff, the Wisconsin FSA director, said he couldn’t comment on the timetable of payments to state farmers as those decisions are being made out of Washington. But he said he understands the situation dairy farmers are in.

He has directed his staff to give him a full report on winterkill of alfalfa across the state. "Even that has been difficult this spring with the northwestern part of the state still covered with snow."

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