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DFA seeks quick market-loss payout

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The board of directors of Dairy Farmers of America, at its November meeting, urged federal officials to make loss payments to farmers as quickly as possible.

The board passed a resolution asking that $200 million in market-loss payments, appropriated by Congress for dairy farmers, be paid quickly and be made based on 1998 milk production.

DFA leaders also recommended that payments should be based on a per hundredweight calculation derived on 12 months of production in 1998 and that there be no payment limitations.

Gary Hanman, DFA president and chief executive officer, said dairy farmers welcome the payments as a recognition that, while dairy prices are currently at adequate levels, farm prices earlier in the year were well below the break-even point for U.S. dairy producers.

"Dairy farmers have suffered for the last five years under the burden of high input costs and low prices for their milk," Hanman said in a release.

"These payments represent a recognition that dairy farmers have been hurt by adverse weather conditions and the loss of international trade opportunities due to the Asian financial crisis."

He said that DFA actively supported passage of the $200 million market-loss payment legislation.

"We've lost thousands of dairy farmers in the last five years because of depressed farm prices for milk," Hanman said. "These payments will help active dairy farmers pay off debt and prepare for future financial challenges as government reduces its participation in dairy support programs."

The DFA cooperative markets milk for 22,000 dairy farmer members in 43 states.

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