Farmers Treated Unfairly in Senate Farm Bill

US - Dairy farmers are being told they need to take their fair share of budget cuts, and I think most would agree, writes Jerry Slominski, International Dairy Food Association (IDFA) Senior Vice President of Legislative and Economic Affairs. But, what if dairy farmers are not being provided their fair share of the budget in the first place?
calendar icon 4 May 2012
clock icon 2 minute read

"One way to look at agriculture spending is to look at projected government outlays in support of a commodity as compared to its cash receipts. For example, government spending on cotton over the next 10 years is projected to be about 29 per cent of total cotton receipts. Wheat receives 20 per cent of its receipts from government support.

"Like other farmers, dairy producers must contend with volatile prices so that dairy products can compete in international markets. Yet, dairy receives less than three-tenths of one per cent in government support compared to total receipts. By this measure, corn receives 28 times the support compared to dairy.

"The Farm Bill passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee last week does not address this fundamental problem. In fact, it makes it worse. That bill cuts spending on dairy by more than 55 per cent over the next five years. Instead of funding, dairy gets a programme to control production.

"And, in five years, we’ll be once again debating another Farm Bill. Does anyone think the budget pressures on Congress will be solved by then?

"IDFA supports adequately funded, compromise support programs for dairy farmers, like revenue insurance and making LGM-Dairy permanent. A stand-alone margin insurance program could be fully funded, and dairy would still receive less than one percent of its receipts from government support.

"There is a common saying in Congress that it is usually not a lack of money but a lack of will to solve problems. IDFA isn’t suggesting that we bust the budget, but only that before Congress whacks dairy spending, it should consider whether dairy is being treated fairly. "Those who believe that mandatory supply management for the dairy industry is the right path forward should be happy with what I’m saying, because in five years they will be in the driver’s seat. But, if you are going along with supply management only because you have been told not to worry because it is voluntary and temporary, you should consider whether you want to be sitting in the back seat."

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