For Immediate Release, December 18, 1998

Contact: Tina Wisell, (802) 229-1941

New York State Passes Legislation to Join Northeast Dairy Compact: Compact Commission Members Say New York's Vote Affirms Compact's Success

The New York State Legislature early Friday morning passed legislation that would allow the State of New York to join the Northeast Dairy Compact. The Senate passed the legislation by a vote of 40 to 19 and the Assembly followed with a vote of 94 to 44. Governor Pataki has stated that he will sign the legislation. Congress must now give its consent before New York can join the existing Compact. Compact Commission members today expressed delight over New York's vote.

The Northeast Dairy Compact is a formal agreement between the six New England States, enacted through state legislation and approved by Congress. It allowed for the creation of a commission that has the authority to regulate the price of fluid milk in the region. The purpose of the Compact is to assure the continued viability of dairy farming in the northeast and to assure consumers of an adequate, local supply of pure and wholesome milk.

Outgoing Compact Commission Chair Michael Wiers said, "This is certainly an exciting time. The Commission worked very hard in New England to make the Compact work. It was clear that the State of New York especially was looking to us as a model. The fact that Compact legislation has passed in New York is an affirmation of the fact that we've done our job well. If I were staying on as Chair I would look forward to working on the larger Compact."

Incoming Chair Mae Schmidle said the vote in New York allows for a win-win situation for both farmers and consumers in that state as well as New England. "I am very pleased that the New York Legislature approved the Compact for New York State by an overwhelming margin of two to one. This is certainly extremely beneficial to New York as well as all the contiguous New England States in terms of providing a guaranteed, fresh supply of milk. We look forward to working with the State of New York."

Commission Executive Director Ken Becker said, "Congress approved the Compact as a pilot project in the six New England states and other states have looked to the results that have been accomplished by this Commission in these six states. Twelve other states in the eastern United States have passed compact legislation of their own in recognition of the regional nature of the milk shed. With Congressional approval, the benefits of the Compact will accrue to New York's consumers and farmers as well."

The sponsor of the Compact legislation in the New York Senate, State Senator John Kuhl, said the action taken by the New York Legislature represents a historic, satisfying and valuable victory for New York State's dairy farmers. "Our entry into the Northeast Interstate Dairy Compact will ensure a well-deserved and hard-earned level of security and stability for an industry that has been a mainstay of this state's economy and culture for centuries," he said."

When Congress gave its approval to the Compact in March 1996 the six New England States were included in the agreement. Congress also stated that six additional states, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, could join the Compact, if upon entry, the State is contiguous to a participating State and if Congress consents to the entry of the State into the Compact.

Compact legislation has already been passed by the legislatures and signed into law in the States of New Jersey and Maryland. New York and New Jersey, therefore, need to receive authorization from Congress before those states can join the Compact. Maryland needs the consent of Congress and must also wait until either Pennsylvania or Delaware passes legislation and receives approval from Congress to join the Compact.


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