Dairy Freedom Act: Responses
Editor's note: DairyBusiness editorial director Dave Natzke is catching up after one day out of the office on April 26. Following are press releases, responses and other information related to the introduction of the “Dairy Freedom Act” by U.S. Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and David Scott (D-Ga.).
Goodlatte, Scott introduce ‘Dairy Freedom Act’
Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Congressman David Scott (D-GA) released the following statement after introducing the Dairy Freedom Act as an alternative to the Dairy Security Act:
“The Dairy Freedom Act represents a true compromise on dairy policy. We all agree on the need to reform and improve our current dairy policies – and our bill would do just that. The Dairy Freedom Act would provide producers with a viable safety net, without supply management or new administrative fees for dairy farmers.
“Supply management is contrary to the goals of limited government, economic growth and free markets. A supply control program puts federal government bureaucrats in the middle of market decisions by manipulating dairy prices, instituting dairy production quotas, and penalizing consumers. With budgets already stretched thin, higher milk prices would negatively affect American families, food manufacturers, retailers, and restaurants. The federal government has no business intervening in this market.
“With the House Committee on Agriculture’s markup of the Farm Bill set for May 15th, we hope this legislation will be considered as the base text of the Farm Bill’s dairy provisions. We look forward to continuing to work to Chairman Lucas and Ranking Member Peterson on common sense reforms for our nation’s dairy farmers.”
Full text of the legislation is available here.
NMPF reaction to introduction of Goodlatte-Scott Dairy Freedom Act
“Goodlatte and Scott’s misnamed Dairy Freedom Act is nothing more than an unacceptable attempt by dairy processors to assure themselves access to a sea of taxpayer-subsidized cheap milk,” said Jerry Kozak, National Milk Producers Federation CEO and president. “Congress rejected this approach last year, and should do so again this year.
“What processors claim is a compromise is nothing more than a costly ruse that will hurt farmers and taxpayers alike.
“Because it features no mechanism to put the brakes on potential excess milk production, it offers dairy processors an over-abundant, cheap milk supply that will help their corporations’ bottom lines, while ensuring that farmers are underpaid for the milk they produce. Dairy processors are simply trying to have taxpayers make up the difference.
“The market stabilization program in the Dairy Security Act that was approved last year by both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees makes our program cost-effective. Creating an effective, voluntary participation program supported by dairy farmers from coast to coast most certainly is the business of the federal government. That program is the Dairy Security Act, not this dairy processor-backed Trojan Horse.”
IDFA urges Congress to support bipartisan compromise dairy bill
Leading up to the formulation of the 2013 Farm Bill, two House Agriculture Committee members introduced a bill that forges a bipartisan compromise approach to reforming U.S. dairy policy. The “Dairy Freedom Act” by Representatives Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and David Scott (D-Ga.) provides a safety net for dairy farmers that would establish a new revenue insurance program for times of low milk prices and high feed costs. The bill also would eliminate three existing and out-of-date dairy programs.
The Dairy Freedom Act would establish a new Dairy Producer Margin Insurance Program and would repeal the Dairy Product Price Support Program, the Milk Income Loss Contract Program and the Dairy Export Incentive Program.
The features of the new bill essentially mirror the proposal offered in the last Congress by Representative Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), but it doesn’t include the highly controversial supply management program called the Dairy Market Stabilization Program. The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), representing companies that make milk and dairy products across the country, strongly endorses the new Goodlatte-Scott compromise bill.
“This is a true middle-ground approach as no one gets everything they want, and Congress should use it as a way to move the Farm Bill forward,” said Jerry Slominski, IDFA senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy.
At the end of last year, Congress reached a stalemate on dairy policy because leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees proposed to put the controversial supply management program in the extension of the 2008 Farm Bill. Their dairy package was rejected in the Farm Bill extension, because the new program would have periodically imposed limits on milk production, raising consumer prices for dairy products and increasing the costs of federal food and nutrition programs.
“The new Goodlatte-Scott legislation does not include the highly divisive supply management program and thus will help clear the path to complete the 2013 Farm Bill,” added Slominski.
A Harris poll fielded last year found that 81% of Americans agree that individual farmers should have the freedom to decide how much milk they produce and not have a limit set by government policy. This view is reinforced by many associations and groups that have taken a strong position against any dairy policy that restricts the milk supply. Consumer Action, the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union and the National Consumers League have all spoken out against the Dairy Market Stabilization Program. Conservative groups, including Citizens Against Government Waste, National Taxpayers Union and others, also oppose supply management, which would increase prices and government spending for dairy products.
In addition to the consumer and taxpayer groups, restaurant and food groups also oppose milk supply limits. These groups include the National Restaurant Association, the Food Marketing Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the National Chain Restaurant Association, the National Grocers Association and the National Frozen Pizza Institute.
Dairy producer groups have also voiced their opposition. The Dairy Policy Action Committee, the Wisconsin Dairy Business Association, Alliance Dairies (Florida), the Board of Directors of Bongards’ Creameries (Minnesota), Dairy Business Milk Marketing Cooperative (Wisconsin), First District Association (Minnesota), High Desert Milk (Idaho), Minnesota Milk Producers Association, National All-Jersey Inc. (Ohio) and the Northeast Dairy Producers Association have all publicly stated their opposition to supply management, as has California Dairies, Inc., the nation’s second-largest dairy cooperative.
“We applaud Representatives Goodlatte and Scott for finding a compromise dairy bill that will bring all stakeholders together,” said Slominski. “Our dairy industry is a growing and important part of our economy, and this Farm Bill proposal will ensure a strong safety net for dairy farmers, while avoiding new regulations that could curb exports and cut jobs. The dairy programs in the Farm Bill should allow the dairy industry a chance to compete and grow without the government regulating the amount of milk a farmer can produce. Today’s consumers around the globe deserve an abundant, affordable and sustainable food supply.”
DPAC supports compromise dairy reform alternative
Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio dairy farmer members of the Dairy Policy Action Coalition are reaffirming their support for bipartisan compromise dairy reform legislation offered today by Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and David Scott (D-Ga). The bill would offer dairy farmers a new milk insurance package almost identical to the Dairy Security Act included in failed Farm Bill attempts but without a controversial milk supply management program.
Called the Dairy Market Stabilization program, the proposal would have tied margin insurance protection, desperately needed by dairy farmers, to government-mandated limits on milk production through new government regulations.
“Dairy farmers are in full support of much needed dairy policy reform in the next farm bill, said George Mueller, a Clifton Springs, NY dairy farmer, “but we do not want to be told how to run our businesses. The Dairy Market Stabilization Program makes supply management mandatory if you want to participate in a margin insurance program. This alternative proposal will allow US dairy farmers access to margin insurance to grow their business in a free market and to be a reliable supplier to the growing global population.”
Goodlatte-Scott is a bipartisan proposal that would offer dairy farmers a new milk insurance package without the controversial milk supply management program. It is expected to be discussed as part of the upcoming Farm Bill in the House Agriculture Committee.
Alan Kozak, a Millersburg, Ohio dairy farmer who has been outspoken in his opposition to supply management, said at a recent press conference, “Participation in the supply management program could be a financial disaster for my farm. The monthly production on our farm is somewhat variable because it is influenced by weather, calving patterns and timing of cattle sales. The folks in Washington need to know you can’t turn milk on and off like the faucet at the kitchen sink and even if we could control the domestic supply, our prices are significantly affected by the global dairy market. The milk supply management program has and will continue to create volatility if not eliminated from the Farm Bill. We need a risk management tool like margin insurance as a safety net but we need to let the market take care of supply and demand and keep the government out of it. Margin insurance as a risk management tool would be valuable for our business but not if it means we have to submit to production controls.”
Dale Hoffman, a dairy farmer from Shinglehouse, Potter County, Pennsylvania, at the same press conference said, “There seems to be a growing gap between the producers and the cooperatives that represent us as well as the policymakers in Washington. I agree with eliminating the Dairy Price Support Program and trading MILC in for a margin insurance product for a safety net. I do not agree with making supply management mandatory in order to access margin insurance.“