Dairy sectors compete for favorable farm bill legislation

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, May 8, 2013 - The National Milk Producers, along with 52 other organizations, sent a joint letter today to members of the House Agriculture Committee, urging the panel to include the Dairy Security Act (DSA) in the upcoming farm bill.

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The letter, said dairy producers need “a financially-sound risk management program to help farmers better manage margin volatility,” noting that the economic conditions that led to the development of the DSA after the dairy conditions of low milk prices and high feed costs  in 2009.

The letter also asked House members to oppose a competing proposal to be offered by Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and David Scott, D-Ga., the Dairy Freedom Act. The competing legislation is supported by the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), which sent its own letters opposing the DSA this week.

IDFA claimed dairy foods manufacturers would be subjected to extensive regulations under the provisions of the Dairy Security Act, which is expected to be included in the farm bill versions proposed by Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow D-Mich., and House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas R-Okla.

“The Dairy Market Stabilization Program would use market regulations to assure that farm milk prices remain high, which would hurt consumers, food companies and dairy exporters,” according to IDFA.

“The Dairy Freedom Act would resolve a very contentious issue that has played a significant role in delaying the Farm Bill,” said Jerry Slominski, IDFA senior vice president for legislative and economic affairs. “This bill mirrors everything in the Dairy Security Act except the hugely divisive supply management provision.”

However NMPF and its supporters argued that, “without the discipline offered by market stabilization, low milk prices will continue for longer periods. The Dairy Freedom Act is supported by processors precisely because it offers them the prospect of lower milk prices, subsidized by government insurance payments.”

The House Agriculture Committee is expected to begin drafting a farm bill next Wednesday and the Senate Agriculture Committee scheduled a farm bill mark-up for Tuesday.


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