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Release No. 0301.05 Contact: USDA Press Office (202) 720-4623 - page 48 / 53





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coming in from countries that aren't regulated the way we are. We need to protect one of our country's most valuable resources, and that is our family farms. MODERATOR:  Thank you, sir.  Let's go to the next question, please. MR. CLINT FALL:  Thank you, and thank you, Secretary, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to come to Minnesota.  First of all, I'll introduce myself.  My name is Clint Fall.  I am the general manager of a dairy cooperative called First District Association located in Litchfield, Minnesota.  And I guess there's been a lot of things that have been brought up.  Steve just mentioned a couple of them that I will second.  The MILC program was a tremendously valuable program for dairy programs, especially during 2002 and 2003 when we hit rock bottom prices.  We would have seen many, many, many more farms exit the industry in this state if we would not have had that program in place. I fear for the day when it's not in place and prices should happen to bottom out again.  We're going to run into that same type of a situation.  It helped carry these people through that time to a time period right now where prices are reasonable.  We've kept these family farms in business.  That has helped our communities and helped rural America.

          The other thing I guess looking forward, looking at the 2007 Farm Bill, we need to look at a similar program.  It might need to be tweaked, it might need some changes to make it affordable and effective.  We also need to make sure that we preserve the current support program that we have and improve upon it if we can.  Again, the farmers are talking about $9.90 support.  That's not sufficient.  That doesn't cover the cost.  We definitely need to have a support program in place. The return on investment on these programs are tremendous when it comes to rural America.   The other thing that was brought up earlier about regulation-- environmental laws.  Livestock industry in Minnesota is very important.  With some of the emphasis that's being put on the Superfund laws, CAFO and so forth, we need to control the regulation in how it impacts livestock agriculture in this state and in this country. The other thing that I want to comment on is imports.  Imports-- again, free trade is fine as long as it's fair.  In the past we have not had fair trade with subsidized proteins coming into this country.  That has to stop. One last comment.  DEIP, the USDA has had the authority that they've not exercised to take advantage of the Dairy Export Incentive Program which would help continue to stabilize and secure milk prices by helping subsidize exports of some of these products to needy countries.  I don't understand why we're not taking advantage of that

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