Source: CWT news release
ALEXANDRIA, VA – The members of Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) today reiterated their support for a multi-year program to help boost U.S. dairy exports, and thus help improve the economics of dairy farmers, with the stipulation that the program must be supported by 70% of the nation’s milk supply.
At a meeting this week in Virginia, the farmer-run committee overseeing CWT voted to renew the program for two years, starting in January 2012 and running through December 2013 – once a 70% level participation level can be reached. Current membership pledges amount to 68% of the milk supply.
“Cooperatives Working Together remains an incredibly important self-help tool for the nation’s dairy producers. The members of CWT want to keep it going into the future because it helps farmers access the fastest-growing markets for their milk, which are overseas,” said Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of NMPF, which manages CWT. “We fully expect the producer and cooperative community see the value in supporting a program that benefits every dairy farmer and that we will achieve our goal.”
Since the start of 2011, the program has used funds carried over from the previous year to help export 39 million pounds of cheese, to 20 countries. The renewal effort will ensure that the program will have new revenue coming in from its members starting next year to further bolster the export activities funded by CWT.
The CWT program no longer funds herd retirements or cow removals, and will focus exclusively on assisting member organizations with dairy exports. Kozak noted that the export market “has been incredibly helpful to farmers in finding new homes for their milk output, but the loss of export markets in 2008 and 2009 illustrated what can happen when we aren’t able to compete internationally. That’s why CWT is so critical – it gives us a privately-run and funded enterprise that makes U.S. dairy exports competitive in global markets.”
Kozak said that an export-focused CWT program is an important complement to the proposed economic restructuring of dairy policy embodied by the reforms proposed in NMPF’s Foundation for the Future program (the details of which can be found at www.futurefordairy.com
). With approximately 15% of the nation’s milk production headed for exports markets in 2011, “CWT will work in tandem with policy changes we want Congress to adopt to ensure that America’s dairy farmers continue to have the ability to access and benefit from growing world demand for U.S. dairy products.”
Kozak said that at the next meeting of the CWT operating committee, in mid-November, the membership participation level will be assessed to verify that the 70% participation level has been reached. The two cent membership dues will subsequently start being collected in January 2012.
The CWT Export Assistance program is funded by voluntary contributions from dairy cooperatives and individual dairy farmers. The money raised by their investment is being used to strengthen and stabilize the dairy farmers’ milk prices and margins. For more information about CWT, visit www.cwt.coop