WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 - An online nationwide survey finds that 81 percent of respondents oppose the idea that government should limit milk production, the International Dairy Foods Association said yesterday. The IDFA-sponsored survey of 2,094 adults by Harris Interactive shows that Americans agree that farmers should be free to decide how much milk they produce and not have a limit set by government policy, the association says.

IDFA adds that the survey reveals 74 percent of respondents in favor of having milk prices based on what consumers are willing to pay and 9 percent for prices being set by government policy.

The association hopes the survey will help build opposition to provisions in current farm bills that would discourage increased production when producers’ margins are low. It is backing an amendment by Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and David Scott, D-Ga., that would remove the supply restraint initiative but retain a subsidized margin insurance program for dairy farmers.

“Artificially raising milk prices by manipulating the market, as proposed in the farm bill’s Dairy Security Act, hurts consumers and it hurts taxpayers,” says IDFA President Connie Tipton. “Goodlatte-Scott provides an option that benefits farmers, consumers and taxpayers. The amendment represents an opportunity to allow dairy industry growth. It would not penalize dairy farmers if they increase production, and would help keep U.S. dairy product prices more competitive in the world market.”

IDFA says most Americans recognize the need for the government to help dairy farmers with 52 percent of survey respondents in favor of government-subsidized insurance, such as the margin protection plan in the pending bills, to protect farmers against catastrophic losses. Only 8 percent say farmers should be helped by government policies that keep prices higher by limiting how much milk farmers produce. IDFA says 40 percent don’t favor either option.

The survey also shows that 74 percent of respondents are not aware that government regulations – set by Federal Milk Marketing Orders – keep the price of milk at the store higher than the price would be without regulations. “Milk pricing is still based on outdated regulations developed in the 1930s that have no connection with today’s markets,” Tipton says. “The reality is that every time a family buys milk, they pay a surcharge and gain no added benefit.”

IDFA says the polling was conducted Oct. 11-15 but “is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. However, propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.”



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