Idaho Legislature recognizes importance of dairy

Source: Idaho Dairymen’s Association

Idaho dairy producers working to recover from a national depression in their industry have become a shining example of the economic recovery under way in rural Idaho. The dairy industry’s resiliency has added billions to the state’s economy during a tough recession.

Over the last few weeks the Idaho Legislature showed that they recognized that success, and passed four measures to help guarantee a strong future for the industry.

“The is one of the best legislative sessions the Idaho Dairymen’s Association (IDA)  has ever seen,” Jerome dairy producer and IDA President Mike Roth said. “We are deeply appreciative of how hard these public servants worked to understand our issues and support one of Idaho’s most important industries.”

All four bills passed out of both the House and Senate Agricultural Committees with unanimous support. The three out of the four bills passed the floors of both bodies with an excess of 90% support, and House Bill 270 received a unanimous vote of support from both the House and the Senate. Both Republicans and Democrats supported the measures.

The bills were part of an overall strategy by the Association to make it easier for dairy farmers to succeed in business. Working in close conjunction with key legislative leaders and representatives from supporting organizations, the Dairymen’s Association crafted four measures to support the industry:

  • The pay price received by milk producers is driven in part by labs that test the components of milk. Those labs will be under closer scrutiny with the passage of House Bill 152. The bill will put into place a negotiated rule-making process at the Idaho State Department of Agriculture so that both producers and processors will determine the most effective and fair way to monitor the labs’ performances. This corrects a flaw dating back to 2004, when state dairy producers lost their seat at the oversight table with the repeal of the Federal Milk Marketing Order.
  • Crucial business information will remain private thanks to House Bill 269, which clarifies how information currently on file with the Idaho Department of Agriculture can be deemed “trade secrets.” The states required Nutrient Management Plans and information derived by the producer because of the plan will no longer be available to the public.
  • There will be more certainty in the crafting and implementation of rules governing the industry thanks to House Bill 270. The measure clarifies how the state Department of Agriculture can – and cannot – regulate the industry when federal rules are less stringent than those proposed by state or local agencies. Most importantly it sets a high standard in requiring the use of peer-reviewed science in the development of the rules.
  • Groups and individuals will no longer be able to harass the state and the industry thanks to House Bill 328. The closes a loophole in existing public records law, which allows anti-dairy activists to force the disclosure of thousands of pages of information without the state being able to seek reimbursement for significant labor costs associated with fulfilling the request.

“The Idaho Dairymen’s Association is fortunate to have such strong allies in the Idaho Legislature,” Executive Director Bob Naerebout said. “We are pleased that they took the time to understand our issues, recognized the critical role our members play in boosting the state’s economy, and were so willing to support these four important pieces of legislation.”

 

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