Praise for Senate Agriculture Committee action this morning on the Farm Bill came rolling in from advocates of the Dairy Security Act (DSA), which includes both dairy margin insurance and a market stabilization program.
Inclusion of DSA in the Senate version is no surprise, since it was included in last year’s farm bill efforts.
"We also urge members of the House Agriculture Committee, during their markup of the farm bill tomorrow, to approve the Dairy Security Act and oppose an effort by Rep. Bob Goodlatte that aims to weaken the bill’s protection of dairy farmers," says Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. "The Dairy Security Act is the best approach to providing milk producers an effective safety net, while avoiding a scenario that Goodlatte’s amendment could cause where dairy margins are low for long periods, hurting farmers and taxpayers alike."
The Midwest Dairy Coalition (MDC), which represents dairy cooperatives and 11,000 dairy farmers in eight Upper Midwest states, echoed Kozak. "DSA offers an improved safety net for dairy producers, insulating the nation's rural economy at critical times when farmers face particularly challenging situations that make it difficult for them to cash flow their businesses," says Steve Etka, MDC coordinator.
But opponents of DSA, who support the Goodlatte/Scott amendment, say there is more opposition to supply management than it first appears. "The Senators who oppose generally have higher priorities in the bill and are more than willing to trade dairy for something in their state," one source says. "I still can't find Senators who will openly defend supply management but getting them to vocally oppose has not been easy either."
The Goodlatte/Scott amendment includes margin insurance at somewhat higher premiums. However, it includes no supply management component. And its budget score by the Congressional Budget Office is slightly less than the Dairy Security Act.
Even if it doesn’t make it into the House Ag Committee farm bill markup tomorrow, the Goodlatte/Scott amendment could be offered on the House floor once the entire body takes up the farm bill discussion.