WASHINGTON, April 26, 2013– Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and David Scott, D-Ga., yesterday introduced a bill that would offer dairy farmers revenue protection without what they call the “supply management” feature of the dairy section in last year’s Senate and House Agriculture Committee farm bills.
They call it the “Dairy Freedom Act” in contrast to the “Dairy Security Act” title of the farm bill dairy language proposed by Rep. Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., and call it “a true compromise on dairy policy.” Their approach lost in a 17-29 House Agriculture Committee vote last year. Peterson’s bill embodies a National Milk Producers Federation proposal guaranteeing a minimum margin between milk prices and feed costs and standby “market stabilization” assessments designed to discourage overproduction and improve farmers’ margins.
“We all agree on the need to reform and improve our current dairy policies – and our bill would do just that,” Goodlatte and Scott said in a statement, and “without supply management or new administrative fees for dairy farmers.” They called the concept of supply management “contrary to the goals of limited government, economic growth and free markets.”
Their bill was praised by the International Dairy Foods Association, which opposes the market stabilization mechanism. “This is a true middle-ground approach as no one gets everything they want, and Congress should use it as a way to move the farm bill forward,” said Jerry Slominski, IDFA senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy.
NMPF has called the Goodlatte-Scott approach “DSA-lite” because it “omits the critically important market stabilization component that is necessary to speed farm milk price recovery and protect taxpayers from excessive program cost in very low margin situation.” It would provide farmers “an inadequate safety net” with “weaker insurance protections” than the Peterson language. Without the market stabilization, NMPF said, “the potential for prolonged low-margin conditions, and high insurance payouts from the government, is enhanced.”
Like Peterson’s language in last year’s farm bills, the Goodlatte-Scott proposal would repeal the Dairy Product Price Support Program, the Milk Income Loss Contract Program and the Dairy Export Incentive Program.
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