Committee to Consider Farm Bill Next Week

US - Congress has returned from a two-week Easter recess, and it appears that the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry is staying on schedule to mark up a Farm Bill next week.
calendar icon 20 April 2012
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The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) continues to believe that a milk supply-management program, similar to the Dairy Market Stabilization program in the Dairy Security Act, as proposed by Rep. Collin Peterson, is likely to be included in Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow’s mark, which will be the starting point for committee deliberation.

Although this programme is being sold to Congress as a way for the government to control milk price volatility, IDFA believes it will hamstring a growing dairy export business, discourage investment into processing facilities and ultimately hurt new or expanding dairy farms by limiting increased demand for more milk production.

Programmes to assist farmers by controlling markets have failed in several commodity sectors, including dairy, over decades in American agriculture history. IDFA continues to ask Congress to adopt safety-net proposals like margin insurance or the Livestock Gross Margin – Dairy programme that do not attempt to assist producers by imposing government control of the supply and demand for milk and will not have the negative consequences of supply-management programmes.

On Monday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he “expects the full Senate to vote on the [Farm] bill in late spring or early summer. And it’s possible to have legislation approved by Congress before the current law expires in September.”

"With the Senate mark-up around the corner and the significant threat of new milk production controls in the Chairwoman’s mark, IDFA strongly urges all members to contact their senators, both on and off the Senate Agriculture Committee, and ask them to oppose any milk supply management program proposed in the 2012 Farm Bill," said Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO. "It is crucial that senators on both sides of the aisle hear that you oppose additional government regulations and this direct government intrusion in dairy markets."

The House Agriculture Committee has announced that it will hold several Farm Bill hearings in Washington, starting with one covering dairy issues next week. The committee is working with IDFA to assure that the views of processors are represented, and Jon Davis, CEO of Davisco Foods International, Inc., will testify on behalf of IDFA. Davis is IDFA secretary and chair of the National Cheese Institute.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas anticipates that his committee will mark up its version of the Farm Bill later this spring or early summer.

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