Dairy organization leaders respond
Dairy organizations weighed in on the Senate Ag Committee’s passage of dairy reforms in 2012 Farm Bill:
Jerry Slominski, senior vice president for legislative and economic affairs, International Dairy Foods Association
“We commend Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) for getting a Farm Bill out of committee as it is very important legislation for our agriculture communities. We appreciate the concerns that several members expressed about the dairy title and applaud Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) for his leadership in finding a true compromise that provides support for dairy farmers without the necessity of a new dairy supply management program. His proposed margin insurance program will offer dairy farmers the ability to manage price volatility without including a failed policy that discourages investments by dairy food companies and takes away opportunities for dairy farmers to expand production."
Jerry Kozak, President & CEO, National Milk Producers Federation
"The Senate has taken a huge step in the right direction by including the dairy reforms modeled after NMPF's Foundation for the Future program. We commend Senators Stabenow and Roberts for their leadership and diligence in shepherding the farm bill past this point.
"We're very appreciative that members of the Agriculture Committee have preserved the carefully-crafted economic and political compromises that went into the creation of Foundation for the Future. We look forward to working with the full Senate as it considers this legislation later this spring.
John Wilson, Senior Vice President, Dairy Farmers of America
“On behalf of Dairy Farmers of America, Inc.’s (DFA) Board of Directors and management, we commend Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Sen. Pat Roberts and all the members of the Senate Agriculture Committee for their effort to improve federal dairy programs for U.S. dairy farmers. By including provisions of the Dairy Security Act in the Agriculture, Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 (Farm Bill), the committee has taken an important first step in truly reforming the dairy safety net, providing producers the tools they need to remain competitive in the global market and facilitate the industry’s growth and long-term sustainability.
“Since the devastating dairy economy crash of 2009, dairy farmers, industry organizations and cooperatives – including DFA – have worked to develop a new system that better protects the interests of producers in a highly volatile industry.
“The dairy provisions included in the Farm Bill provide producers options to protect their margins and the ability to strengthen exports, both of which will be instrumental in maintaining the vitality of the U.S. dairy industry. We appreciate the support of the committee and look forward to fighting for the bill’s passage on the Senate floor.”
Steve Etka, Coordinator, Midwest Dairy Coalition
"We recognize the work that the Committee has done to address the concerns raised by Midwest Dairy Coalition members. The modifications take into account the economic needs of most of our region's dairy producers."
Earlier this month, the Midwest Dairy Coalition wrote to the Senate Ag Committee leadership outlining the concerns it had with the original Dairy Security Act (H.R. 3062), the legislation introduced by Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) that has served as the basis for dairy negotiations over the last year. The Midwest Dairy Coalition told leadership of both the Senate and House Ag Committees it was unable to endorse the measure as introduced. The Coalition stated that the DSA did not adequately address the economic needs of most Midwest dairy producers. Of primary concern were three modifications it sought to the original DSA bill:
• Removal of federal milk marketing order provisions and exclusion of any FMMO provisions that artificially deflate the value of milk used for manufactured dairy products.
• Addition of a two-tier premium structure to the Supplemental Margin Protection Program provisions, allowing for lower premiums for the first 4 million pounds of a producer's annual production. This would reduce the cost of margin insurance for all participating dairy farmers, but would be particularly helpful for farmers who are transitioning from the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program, which is eliminated under the bill.
• Inclusion of provisions to reinforce that a producer's production base under the Dairy Market Stabilization Program would be a temporary, rolling base and would in no way limit a producer's long-term production decisions and options.
The Coalition also asked for inclusion of provisions to allow for a continued safety net for dairy producers in the interim period following passage of the new dairy legislation until it has been implemented by the USDA, suggesting that either the current MILC program be extended or other interim measure taken.
"We appreciate the Committee's willingness to address these concerns as it worked through the dairy provisions of the Farm Bill," Etka said. "We believe these modifications will make for an improved program that better meets the needs of dairy producers in today's economically challenging environment."