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How did you ring in the new year?

PD Editor Walt Cooley Published on 18 January 2013

Progressive Dairyman doesn’t have a Washington, D.C. bureau office. Unfortunately, dairy issues don’t grab elected officials’ attention often enough to warrant one. But this past New Year’s Eve, I wished we would have had just a cubicle there.

I found myself flipping between ‘Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest’ and my computer screen, reading Twitter feeds of journalists who were on the ground in Washington covering the fiscal cliff negotiations.



My vigil watch continued into New Year’s Day as I watched the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives’ website for an indication that the House would actually vote on the Senate’s fiscal cliff bargain from the night before and not kill it by trying to amend it.

Despite whether you were at home or away for the holidays, you couldn’t have missed how the price of milk took center stage in the weeks leading up to the end of the year. As part of fiscal cliff negotiations, Congress considered how to tackle expired Farm Bill policy and its most pressing issue – the ‘dairy cliff.’

I spent the final days of 2012 and first few of 2013 watching if Congress would really allow us to go over that cliff. I wrote an article with sources who attempted to guess what would have happened if dairy policy had lapsed for more than just a day. Click here to view this article. I had two others in the works for alternate outcomes.

If you read just one more article summarizing what happened during the fiscal cliff dustup, I would recommend a Politico article about the dairy reform options the House put on the table in the final hours. I’ll link to it from this editorial when posted online. Click here to view this article.

Similar to my own end-of-the-year experience writing multiple articles for potential scenarios, legislators had three different options on the table. Two included the Dairy Security Act; the other did not. It punted the issue down the road. The latter is eventually what Congress decided to do.


National Milk Producers Federation , like many other farm lobby groups, has blasted out press releases condemning the Farm Bill extension and has said it will “spend the coming months figuring out how to move farm policy forward.”

It seems unlikely from their indications that the Dairy Security Act, in principle, will change much but that NMPF’s strategy will be to build a broader coalition with other farm lobby groups to get passage of DSA and a full Farm Bill in the House.

What did we learn from it all? The take-home message is that House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, or both, don’t like the Dairy Security Act and its dairy reform provisions that were included in last year’s Farm Bill proposal.

A senior NMPF official told me early last fall that they believed John Boehner’s comments about “Soviet-style” dairy policy referred to federal milk marketing order reform and not his convictions on the DSA. I believe the fiscal cliff proved that theory all wrong.

So if you thought the ‘dairy cliff’ was interesting to watch, I bet the sequel this coming summer will probably be just as thrilling.

New in 2013
Think you’re the only one with tough employee-manager relations? This issue carries a new feature that may provide advice, sympathy – or at least some entertainment. You probably would never guess the types of employee management issues that confound fellow dairymen. Click here to take a look. We welcome you to send us the situations that puzzle you.


Think of the times an employee has done something that made you ask: What should I do? We’d like to hear them. I’m sure your peers will, too. We’ll keep the back stories anonymous and have a panel of dairy personnel management experts weigh in with their thoughts about how a “good” dairy manager should respond.

Also in this issue is a new style of mind-stretching puzzle. We’ve had a great reception over the past few years to our every-other-issue crossword puzzle. So we’ve added a new game that we’ll include in issues that don’t contain a crossword. The new puzzle challenges you to unscramble dairy-specific anagrams and decode the prize-winning message. See page 89 of the magazine to give it a try. PD


Walt Cooley

Progressive Dairyman