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Teamsters like Canadian supply management, but not DSA

Source: Dairy Business Association


Letter to Congress: Teamsters suggest YES on amendments that removes supply management from the Dairy Title of the Farm Bill 


Dear Member of Congress:


The Teamsters are America's Dairy Union.  We represent dairy workers throughout the supply chain and coast to coast - nearly 35,000 workers altogether - and we intend to grow along with the U.S. dairy industry.  So when it comes to industry stability and growth, we have some "skin in the game."


Our members and leadership are very concerned about the supply management or "market stabilization" provisions of the Farm Bill that was reported out of the Agriculture Committee.  Specifically, to the extent that dairy producers, especially the big coops, are given incentives to curtail production in order to keep prices high and their profit margins healthy, the diminished need for processing capacity undermines our members' job security.


Real "dairy security" protects workers, not just big dairy coops with outsized influence in DC.  The Teamsters and our employers on the processing side must take a wider view and safeguard the interests of the men and women who transport the milk, and process and pasteurize it, and make the products that actually end up on consumer shelves or in export markets.


We are not persuaded by the arguments of Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) and other big milk producer coops that price volatility is still a problem for the industry as a whole that can only be addressed through supply management.  Furthermore, we observe that the CBO has scored the Dairy Security Act as more expensive to taxpayers than alternatives that don't include supply management.


The Teamsters are not philosophically opposed to supply management.  We support our brothers and sisters in Teamsters Canada, for example, and their defense of Canadian dairy market protections in trade negotiations like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  But after careful consideration and discussions with producers and processors, we conclude that the Dairy Security Act doesn't work for our members.


For now, we recommend that you vote in favor of any amendment that removes "market stabilization" from the dairy provisions of the Farm Bill; going forward, we look forward to working with milk producers and processors who take dairy workers' interests into account and not merely the profit margins of big coops.


Michael F. Dolan, J.D.

Legislative Representative

International Brotherhood of Teamsters