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1309 PD: Mr. Chairman, Here's what the government should do for dairy.

Published on 25 August 2009

These statements were made in the July 28 hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry.

"I have found that there is considerable and widespread consensus among dairy producers and their allied industries about what should be done to improve federal dairy policy and end this crisis. The California Dairy Campaign launched a letter- writing campaign in May to call attention to the ongoing dairy crisis and offer solutions to end it. Producers and allied industries alike joined the letter-writing effort to urge President Obama and leaders in Congress to work together to provide relief to dairy producers. Thus far we have sent more than 300 letters to members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees and President Obama calling for an increase in the dairy support purchase price and the establishment of an inventory management program."

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Joaquin Contente
President, California Farmers Union, Hanford, California

"As supply management program ideas have begun to circulate, many have argued that isolationism would solve this crisis. The goal is seemingly to create a fully closed market like Canada's. However, by aiming to address this aspect, we would likely create even more complications. It is virtually impossible to forecast market twists and turns accurately enough to match production with domestic and export demand. Therefore, overwhelmingly likely decisions by a so-called Supply Management Board would tend towards undersupply in order to keep farm incomes on the high side. The consequence would be steadily rising imports in reaction to prices much higher than those that exist globally, which would steadily ratchet down our domestic production. In short, we would steadily shrink as an industry."

Thomas M. Suber
President, U.S. Dairy Export Council, Arlington, Virginia

"While fewer dairy cows would be useful in increasing dairy prices to farmers, we are adamantly opposed to a Federal Dairy Herd Buyout program similar to that used in the past. While that program did decrease production significantly and increase the price available to dairy farmers, it added to total meat supplies and had a negative effect on the beef industry. As a general farm organization representing farmers who produce all types of commodities, it is imperative that we do not support programs that may benefit one sector to the detriment of another sector."

Craig Lang
President, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Brooklyn, Iowa

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"In times like these, free markets look cruel, and it is tempting to try to temper their effects. It is painful to see families losing their life’s savings and businesses that have become part of their identity. Businesses that supply dairy farmers also feel the pain and the risk of financial ruin. Dedicated dairy workers lose their jobs, and cows get loaded on trucks and go off to an uncertain fate. But in the long run, the market will win. Artificially raising the milk price will reduce our competitiveness, encourage overproduction and cause even greater surpluses to hang over future markets from government storage."

Walt Guterbock
DVM and Manager, Columbia River Dairy and Six-Mile Land and Cattle Company, Boardman, Oregon

"A problem is the lack of a consistent regulatory program throughout the country, although there is clearly a national market for milk and the dairy products produced from it. We have a jumble of federally regulated areas, state-regulated areas, federal- and state-regulated areas and areas outside of any order whatsoever. A coherent national dairy policy is essential."

W. Anthony Bostwick
CEO, Braum's Ice Cream and Dairy Stores, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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