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House Ag Committee defeats Goodlatte-Scott amendment

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The Goodlatte-Scott amendment was the first amendment defeated when the House Ag Committee started markup of its version of the 2013 Farm Bill, May 15, according to Bob Gray, with the Northeast Dairy Farmers Cooperative.

U.S. Rep. Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Scott (D-Ga.) joined in offering the amendment, which would have stripped the Market Stabilization provision from the Dairy Security Act. Following spirited debate and a roll call vote, Goodlatte/Scott went down to defeat, 26-20. 

The amendment would have removed Subtitle D Part I (Dairy Producer Margin Protection and Dairy Market Stabilization Programs) and replaced it with a stand-alone "Dairy Producer Margin Insurance Program." 

Six Republicans on the Committee joined 20 Democrats to vote against the amendment. In addition to House Ag Committee chair Rep. Frank Lucas (Okla.), the five Republicans who voted against the Goodlatte-Scott amendment included U.S. Reps. Mike Rogers (Ala.), Mike Conaway (Texas), Dan Benishek (Mich.), Stephen Fincher (Tenn.) and Vicky Hartzler (Mo.).

“The outcome of today’s vote in the Agriculture Committee on this amendment was disappointing,” Goodlatte said. “Supply management is antithetical to the future growth of the dairy industry. Government bureaucracy should not control the size of your herd. A supply control program that will directly intervene in markets and increase milk prices will ultimately hurt dairy producers and consumers as well as dairy food manufacturers by stifling industry growth.  This program is contrary to the reforms already in the Farm Bill.”

“There is no farm district member who disagrees on the need for fundamental reform of our dairy programs,” Goodlatte continued. “The reforms in our amendment give farmers the necessary tools to manage their risk without requiring them to participate in yet another government program. It also clearly accounts for, and allows for, growth in dairy farms. We will continue our efforts to include this bipartisan alternative in the Farm Bill and reform dairy policy when the legislation is addressed on the House floor.”

 

Dairy organizations respond

The head of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) praised the House Ag Committee vote in support of the Dairy Security Act (DSA). 

“The committee’s decision to once again reject an amendment by Reps. Bob Goodlatte and David Scott that would have undermined the House Farm Bill’s dairy safety net is gratifying to the thousands of dairy farmers across the country who support the DSA,” said Jerry Kozak, NMPF CEO and president.

“Dairy farmers have labored for four years to develop the reforms contained in the DSA. We have worked with leaders of both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to construct a new safety net that offers dairy farmers more effective protection than current policy,” Kozak said. “We appreciate the fact that House Agriculture Committee members are concerned with fashioning the best dairy policy possible, and we are heartened by their decision today to back the DSA.

“The House committee has now twice rejected the Goodlatte-Scott effort to undermine establishment of a workable national dairy policy,” he continued. “As the farm bill moves to the House floor, we hope that the committee’s decision today will be the final word on the matter. It is time for dairy processors to end their campaign of divisiveness, and assist us in moving the farm bill toward completion. The dairy industry needs the stability that the DSA will provide, and we need it now. The House version of the bill is on the right path, and its dairy title now matches the farm bill approved Tuesday by the Senate Agriculture Committee. We urge Congress to move quickly to complete action on the farm bill this summer.”

The defeat of the Goodlatte/Scott Amendment was a stinging defeat for the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). However, Jerry Slominski, IDFA senior vice president for legislative and economic affairs, said he expects the Goodlatte-Scott measure to resurface when the Ag Committee’s farm bill proposal comes to the floor of the full House.

“IDFA is very encouraged by the growing support for the bipartisan, compromise Goodlatte-Scott approach to dairy policy, particularly from important dairy states like Wisconsin, New York and Pennsylvania,” Slominski said. “We are grateful to Representatives Goodlatte and Scott for offering a proposal that provides an effective safety net for dairy farmers but will not interfere in dairy markets by imposing limits on milk production.

“We expect that the Goodlatte-Scott amendment will be brought to a floor vote and that the House will ultimately take a strong position against a supply management policy that would restrict job growth, hurt middle-income families and add additional costs to nutrition programs that are losing funding in the Farm Bill,” Slominski continued. “Also, the Goodlatte-Scott amendment would cost taxpayers less than the Dairy Security Act, according to the Congressional Budget Office.”

“The House vote was much closer than last year, and the amendment is clearly gaining momentum as it heads to the House floor,” he said. 

The amendment was supported by an overwhelming majority of the Republicans on the committee, including Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), the chair of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over dairy programs. Several members, including Reps. Austin Scott (R-Ga.), Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), Martha Roby (R-Ala.) and Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) now oppose dairy supply management, Slominski said.

“Because the Dairy Security Act is designed to raise prices on consumers and would hurt businesses up and down the food chain, this is not simply a fight between dairy processors and dairy cooperatives,” he said. “The Goodlatte-Scott amendment is supported by a broad coalition of nearly 150 restaurant associations, food and retail associations, conservative and anti-tax groups, consumer protection and watchdog groups, food manufacturers, and many dairy producer groups.”

A statement released by the Dairy Business Association (DBA), another proponent of the Goodlatte-Scott amendment, said DBA was disappointed, but not surprised by the outcome.

“DBA is not surprised that supply management passed both committees because of the large push from cooperatives, and believes that when all of the members of the House have a chance read the bill and vote on whether the government should control the amount of milk a dairy farmer can produce, they will vote no; and supply management will be removed,” according to the statement.

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