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Santorum got MILC program extension, aiding farmers

I am writing in response to the opinion editorial written by Arden Tewksbury that appeared in the Sept. 12 edition of the Times Leader. I was dismayed by Mr. Tewksbury’s efforts to deceive voters about Sen. Rick Santorum’s record when it comes to protecting Pennsylvania’s dairy farmers.

I have known Arden for many years, and he knows just as well as I do that Rick Santorum has been a dairy farmer’s loudest advocate in Pennsylvania. It’s just a shame that partisan politics stop Arden from acknowledging that.

In September of 2005 when political winds were not blowing, Arden signed an open letter to Congress in which he called on Congress to extend the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program. The letter states “(w)e strongly urge you to support the bipartisan efforts to extend the MILC program to ensure it expires in tandem with the remaining farm bill programs.” Rick Santorum heeded the Pennsylvania Dairy Community and Arden’s request by extending the MILC program, and in 2006 alone Pennsylvania dairy producers have received $24 million during this period of low dairy prices. But for Rick Santorum, the MILC program would be dead and Pennsylvania dairy farmers would be without a safety net.

It is very clear that while Bob Casey promises dairy farmers the world, Rick Santorum is delivering.

Rick Santorum’s leadership in crafting the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program was instrumental in ensuring that our small-to-medium-sized dairy farms see some assistance when milk prices are low. And what Rick did with MILC payments was, for the first time in history, treat dairy farmers the same as grain farmers. Prior to Senator Santorum’s intervention, that wasn’t happening. There is no question that Rick’s leadership made this happen. No question at all.

And Rick’s concern for farmers goes well beyond dairy farmers. Rick Santorum understands the unique interests of Pennsylvania’s diverse agriculture communities. As Pennsylvania’s only member of the Senate Agriculture Committee in over 100 years, Rick Santorum is well positioned to deliver for Pennsylvania when Congress considers the 2007 Farm Bill.

Whether it’s expanding the crop insurance program, repealing the death tax or creating the Federal Farmland Preservation Program, Rick Santorum is irreplaceable as our U.S. Senator.

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