Pro-Ag: Milk COP report escapes sequestration cut

While monthly USDA milk production reports will be suspended through the end of the fiscal year due to budget cuts, another monthly report – covering dairy farmer costs to produce that milk – should survive, according to Arden Tewksbury, manager of the Progressive Agriculture Organization (Pro-Ag).

USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) dairy economists William McBride and Don Blayney, met with Pro-Ag members on March 21, Tewksbury said.

“Both economists feel that the sequestration cuts the USDA may make will not affect the ability of the ERS personnel from continuing to develop the dairy farmers’ cost of production figures,” he said.

Last fall, U.S. Sen. Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.) introduced the Pro-Ag-supported Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act (S-1640), dairy policy which includes milk cost of production in determining federal minimum prices paid to dairy producers.

Tewksbury also said he had contacted a representative of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) regarding estimating a CBO budget score for S-1640. A Casey staff member informed Tewksbury the bill had been sent to CBO, and a quick turnaround in scoring the bill was expected.

Pro-Ag, along with the National Family Farm Coalition, feel S-1640 is budget neutral and will not cost taxpayers any funds.

“We’ve been trying to tell everyone that we should no longer depend on any form of subsidizing dairy farmers or dairy processors,” Tewksbury said. ”It’s past time now to put our shoulders behind S-1640 and give the dairy farmers a fair price from the marketplace without gouging consumers.”