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(J.R.H. 3)

Offered by:House Committee on Agriculture.

Whereas, the milk price received by Vermont dairy farmers dropped from $16.04 per hundredweight for October, 1996 to an estimated $13.00 for January, 1997, the largest price decline on record for a three-month period, which now equals an income loss to Vermont dairy farmers of roughly $250,000 each day, even though the cost of doing business and of maintaining the necessary infrastructure remains the same or increases, and

Whereas, the drop in milk prices is influenced by operations of the National Cheese Exchange located in Green Bay, Wisconsin, because market prices on the exchange are a basic factor in the formula price of dairy products set through federal milk marketing orders, and

Whereas, consultants to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection have concluded that large dairy food manufacturing firms have the ability and the motive to manipulate prices on the exchange, effectively preventing the exchange from representing a competitive market price for cheese, and

Whereas, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture has recommended the price of milk be based on the true supply of and demand for milk used in manufacturing dairy products, rather than the distorted supply and demand representations of the National Cheese Exchange, and

Whereas, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman has, based on the above concerns, initiated an investigation of the National Cheese Exchange, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly request Secretary Glickman immediately to establish a temporary floor on the price dairy farmers receive for their milk to prevent a further price drop while the National Cheese Exchange investigation is in process, and initiate steps to discontinue use of, or substantially lessen the influence of, the National Cheese Exchange price in determining the formula price for federal milk marketing orders, and be it further

Resolved: That the Secretary of State be directed to send a copy of this resolution to Secretary Glickman and to U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy and James Jeffords, and to U.S. Representative Bernard Sanders.