Proposal calls for boosting CWT export assistance assessment

The National Milk Producers Federation board will consider a plan to double the current Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) Export Assistance program assessment when it meets in June, according to NMPF CEO and president Jerry Kozak. Addressing the Dairy Farmers of America 15th annual meeting in Kansas City, Kozak said the plan, if approved by CWT member co-ops, would boost the assessment to 4¢/cwt. and extend assessment collection through 2014-15.

Co-ops and individuals have committed the current 2¢/cwt. assessment on about 70% of U.S. milk production in 2013. According to Kozak, about $30 million is budgeted to cover 2013 export assistance, with another $5 million held in reserve. However, due to heavy use and strong dairy export totals, the program is in danger of running short of funds.

So far in 2013, CWT has already accepted bids from participating co-ops covering 34.05 million lbs. of cheese, 40.91 million lbs. of butter and 218,258 lbs. of whole milk powder to 24 countries on six continents. These sales are the equivalent of 1.206 billion lbs. of milk on a milkfat basis, or the annual milk output of 57,400 cows.

That's on top of a record 2012, in which CWT aided the export of 124.5 million lbs. of cheese and 72.8 million lbs. of butter. Those sales represented 18% of all U.S. cheese exports, including 83% of total American cheese exports, and 62% of all U.S. butter exports. The 2012 shipments were equivalent to 2.743 billion lbs. of milk on a milkfat basis.

Analysis by the University of Missouri said each 2¢/cwt. assessment returned 45¢/cwt. to the dairy producers’ all milk price, Kozak said.

Only dairy co-ops participating in the CWT assessment are eligible for export assistance. dairy products eligible for aid include: butter, anhydrous milk fat, whole milk powder and five types of cheeses (cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, Gouda and Swiss).

Due to World Trade Organization (WTO) considerations and government bureaucracy, Kozak said NMPF had no desire to involve USDA in CWT, nor make the CWT assessment mandatory.

For more information, visit www.cwt.coop.