Tariffs Add New Pain For Dairy Farms As Low Milk Prices Persist

Sep 19, 2018

Congresswoman Annie Kuster toured Ed MacGlaflin's dairy farm in Claremont Tuesday.
Credit Britta Greene / New Hampshire Public Radio

Congresswoman Annie Kuster toured a dairy operation in Claremont, New Hampshire Tuesday, talking with local farmers about the escalating trade war and ongoing farm bill negotiations.

New Hampshire dairy farmers have been struggling for years with low milk prices, and are now seeing losses linked to tariffs on dried milk products sold overseas.

“They’re getting hit every which way,” Kuster said. “They deserve our support.”

In July, the Trump administration announced $12 billion in aid to farmers impacted by tariffs. But Ed MacGlaflin, owner of the Claremont farm, called the payments “a slap in the face.” The money doesn’t even come close, he said, to making up for the lost market access. 

Kuster serves on the Congressional committee tasked with reconciling House and Senate versions of the farm bill. The current legislation formally expires at the end of the month, but that deadline will likely be pushed out as negotiations continue. 

A key point for the New Hampsire farmers who gathered Tuesday was the bill's Margin Protection Program for dairy. The program aims to provide a safety net against low milk prices, but farmers say the formula used to calculate payments underestimates their actual costs. Kuster said she's optimistic steps can be taken to correct that in the new legislation.