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Congress: No reform before 2012, yet new bills still proposed

PD Staff Published on 07 June 2011

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Ag Committee chairs say no dairy policy reform before Farm Bill
There seems to be consensus between the U.S. House and Senate agriculture committees about when dairy reform should move through Congress. At least for now, it will remain where it has always been – within the farm bill.

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In a recent interview with Agri-Pulse in May, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, clearly indicated her belief that dairy policy would not move ahead of the 2012 Farm Bill.

“The only reason to even talk about moving it separately would be if there was agreement on a package. At the moment, there is not,” Stabenow said.

Her comments mirror those made by House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) in interviews earlier this year. Lucas said he would consider moving a dairy reform package ahead of the farm bill only if the farmers and processors are united.

Currently, the National Milk Producers Federation and IDFA have differing points of view for dairy reform.

The Senate Agriculture Committee held its first field hearing on the farm bill in Lansing, Michigan, May 31.

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—From IDFA news release

Pennsylvania Farmers Union announces support for the Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act
Larry Breech, president of Pennsylvania Farmers Union (PAFU), from Millville, Pennsylvania, recently announced his organization was strongly supporting the reintroduction of the former Specter-Casey Bill or Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act of 2009.

The bill is now being finalized for reintroduction.

“The bill is the only proposal that will cover the dairy farmers’ cost of production and provide the opportunity for a modest profit to our dairy farmers,” Breech said. “It’s time for all dairy farmers and farm organizations to unite behind this bill, and give our remaining dairy farmers a fighting chance to stay on the farm!”

—Pro-Ag news release

National Dairy Producers Organization writes its own dairy reform bill, visits Washington
The National Dairy Producers Organization (NDPO) recently published on its website a first draft of legislation it intends to get sponsored and introduced as an option for dairy reform. Members of its board of directors were recently in Washington lobbying for sponsors for the bill.

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The legislation, called the Dairy Industry Stabilization and Sustainability Act of 2011 (DISSA), proposes the government install supply management for milk used in the production of butter, nonfat dry milk powder and cheese.

Supply management would be triggered by set inventory levels for these products. Milk marketed in Class I and Class II of the FMMO would not be subject to supply management.

The government would establish a production history base for a producers in the contiguous 48 states from the previous year’s milk production records. Producers in operation less than a year would be allotted a base by a newly created producer review board.

If the bill passed, the producer board with authority to manage the allocation of milk production bases would be appointed with members of the NDPO serving as board members. Passage of the act would automatically appoint six pre-specified individuals.

The act would also create a new Federal Milk Marketing Order price class – Class V. This class would be used to price milk marketed in excess of a producer’s production base.

The bill would enact California’s fluid milk component standards for Class I milk marketed throughout the U.S. and would reduce the legal SCC limit to 400,000. Imports of dairy ingredients would be frozen at 2010 tariff rate levels.

Visit www.nationaldairyproducers.org to read the entire draft bill. PD

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