|BILL AS PASSED BY HOUSE||2007-2008|
AN ACT RELATING TO INTERIM ASSISTANCE TO THE DAIRY INDUSTRY AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF LONG-TERM GOALS FOR A VIABLE AGRICULTURAL SECTOR
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. LONG-TERM GOALS
(a) The general assembly should support programs and policies that foster the development of a diversified agricultural sector that:
(1) offers farmers an opportunity to sell their products to a marketplace that pays them a reasonable rate of return for their labor and capital investments;
(2) offers the public nutritious and safe foods;
(3) produces, markets, and distributes agricultural products in a sustainable manner that conserves energy and the environment;
(b) The general assembly also recognizes that this act provides only
short-term help for problems caused by ongoing severe structural problems in the industry. Therefore, the general assembly also recognizes the need to work with the farmers, related industries, and citizens of Vermont to work collaboratively with all parties to support and develop a more robust and
self-sustaining agricultural sector.
Sec. 3. INTERIM DAIRY ASSISTANCE
(a) The interim dairy assistance will pay the difference between target prices established by the secretary of the agency of agriculture, food and markets and the combined announced Federal Order Statistical Uniform Price for the Middlebury Location plus the amount of the MILCX payment rate on a per-hundredweight basis. The payment will be paid in March of 2007, based on the amount of milk produced in the previous two months or on the seasonal herd formula pursuant to subsection (c) of this section, using the entire appropriation.
(b) The agency of agriculture, food and markets will request the Farm Services Agency to provide the production data for dairy producers and assist the agency to administer the assistance.
(c) Dairy producers will receive a single payment based on pounds of milk produced in January and February 2007 multiplied by the payment rate for the interim dairy assistance as calculated in this section on a per-hundredweight basis. The payment will be made by the end of March 2007 based on January and February milk production and price data. Farmers who do not take part in the MILCX program and who wish to receive this interim assistance shall provide the agency of agriculture, food and markets with the appropriate verifiable production evidence by the 12th day of March for the previous two months’ milk production. Seasonal herds that have no production in the qualifying months would be paid on the monthly production average of the 12 months, including the payment period, as determined by the secretary. Acceptable forms of verifiable production evidence include: milk marketing payment stubs, bulk tank records, milk handler records, and daily milk marketing records.
(d) The payment will come as a separate check to dairy producers from the state of Vermont.
(e) Determination made within the MILCX program on farm ownership will be used for interim dairy assistance. The following is not considered commercially marketed milk and is ineligible for this assistance:
(1) Dumped milk that causes bulk load contamination for which a producer receives an insurance indemnity;
(2) Milk dumped on the farm by order of a state agriculture or health department official.
(f) When signing up for the assistance, dairy producers will sign an agreement to reimburse the agency of agriculture, food and markets for payments if the producer disperses the herd or reduces herd production by more than 50 percent by July 1, 2007.
(g) Appeals. Acknowledging that there may be unforeseen emergencies, a three-member appeal board will be appointed by the secretary of agriculture, food and markets to recommend final settlement of any hardship case.
Sec. 4. ASSISTANCE THROUGH A LOAN BUY-DOWN PROGRAM
The state of Vermont will buy down the interest rate of farm loans at the Vermont agricultural credit corporation for three additional months to continue the program for the entire fiscal year 2007.
Sec. 5. APPROPRIATIONS
(a) There is appropriated from the general fund in fiscal year 2007, the sum of $3 million to the department of finance and management to process payments for interim dairy assistance established in this act.
(b) For the purpose of continuing to provide interest rate support for farm loans, the sum of $200,000.00 is appropriated from the general fund in fiscal year 2007 to the Vermont agricultural credit corporation.
Sec. 6. FUNDING OFFSETS
The administration and the legislature have agreed to:
(1) Recognize and directly apply to the general fund $600,000.00 from the consumer protection fund in fiscal year 2007.
(2) Remove or reduce the following appropriations from the governor’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2008:
(A) $700,000.00 for judicial case management system;
(B) Reduce from $400,000.00 to $150,000.00 Regional Marketing Organizations; and
(C) Reduce debt service cost by $100,000.00.
(3) Recognize vendor incentive payments of $500,000.00 to the general fund in fiscal year 2007.
(4) Reduce LIHEAP from $990,000.00 to $590,000.00 in the governor’s budget adjustment proposal for fiscal year 2007.
(5) Recognize and directly apply to the general fund increases from the captive insurance fund at the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration:
(A) $360,000.00 in fiscal year 2007; and
(B) $290,000.00 in fiscal year 2008.
Sec. 7. EFFECTIVE DATE
This act shall take effect on passage.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street