Peterson: 'I have not agreed to anything' in dairy dealing

By Daniel Enoch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2014 - Representative Collin Peterson, the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, is taking a step or two back from a report that he and House Speaker John Boehner were close to a compromise on a dairy provision that is holding up agreement on a long-term farm bill.

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Earlier today, the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire quoted Peterson as saying he and Boehner, R-Ohio, had met Wednesday and that they were now likely to settle on the framework of a deal to reshape support for the dairy industry.

But this afternoon, a statement from Peterson's office did not sound nearly as optimistic.

“I have not agreed to anything at this point and still support the Dairy Security Act,” Peterson said, referring to a measure that involves a form of supply management opposed by Boehner. “While the proposed concept (of the framework) at least appears to move in the right direction and may be something I could reluctantly support, without further details a lot still needs to be worked out.”

The men reportedly talked about tweaking a program approved by both the House and Senate that would send dairy farmers payments at times of need, based on the margin between milk prices and a farmer's expenses.

 “Given our discussion yesterday, from what I understand, it'll probably be something neither of us will like, but can live with,” Peterson was quoted by Washington Wire.

While Peterson may still support the Dairy Support Act, the National Milk Producers Federation has given up on its campaign to have the program included in the farm bill that will eventually come out of the House-Senate conference.

“Unfortunately the Speaker's threat that he would not allow a vote on a farm bill containing the market stabilization program has effectively served to kill our proposal with the committee,” Jim Mulhern, the NMPF'S president and CEO, said in a statement.

“At this point, it is conceivable that an alternative mechanism could be developed, relying upon adjustments to the program's margin insurance payout structure and participant premium rates, among other options,” he said.

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