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On the Udder Hand

RSS By: Chris Galen, AgWeb.com

Chris Galen is the Senior Vice President of Communications for the National Milk Producers Federation .

#2 Shoe Drops - Congress Looks Into the Dairy Crisis cont’d.

Jul 29, 2009

My most recent post was about the series of three congressional hearings that the House of Representatives has had on the dairy crisis.  Now, another leather sole has dropped this week on Capitol Hill, in the form of the Congressional Dairy Farmer Caucus being revived.

This development is yet more evidence that, despite periodic proclamations to the contrary, they “get it” in Congress; elected officials understand the pain in dairy country, and want to do something to help.  They may not understand dairy pricing (few do), and they may not fully understand the depth of the crisis and how various policies either help or hurt, but the reformation of the caucus, after a three-year hiatus, is a sign of the times, and a positive one at that.

The news conference today announcing the caucus featured liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, congresspersons from New York to California, and even a few that don’t have farms in their district, but are concerned about the dairy crisis.  The group is at 50 members, and will grow in the coming weeks.  One speaker said it well:  right now, everyone seems to be profiting from dairy farming, except farmers themselves.  And everyone benefits from a healthy dairy industry, which is certainly what we don’t have today.

Now, the fact is that both Congress and the USDA have few magic wands in their arsenal to waive and make the recession disappear.  NMPF has been vocal in asking Congress to weigh in with USDA on steps the agency should take.  The list includes boosting the price support program, and fully utilizing the Dairy Export Incentive Program.  Some of these (and other) potential policy actions have budget implications for both USDA and Congress, so as is always the case these days, price tags become an issue.

The most important long-term takeaway from the Dairy Farmer Caucus will be for producer organizations to channel their interests and concerns to a significant portion of the House, and Senate.  It shouldn’t take a crisis to make this group active or relevant, but if anything good does come from the financial crunch, this may be one example.

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COMMENTS (108 Comments)

virtualmilkman
Chris thank you boys for taking a stand for the folks you represent and supporting s:1542. Next could you Add this as to the Dairy GREAT link so some can write letters more quickly. ___________ And I challenge everyone on this blog to take the time to write your senators and reps also.
4:22 PM Aug 3rd
 
Anonymous
If we as dairymen can't come together on the MPC proposal them God help us all. This is a huge part of the problem. Does anyone think that the importing of MPC's is going to drop? Do you want to milk cows for 10.00 per 100#'s forever? Yes the market will get better for a while but IT WILL DROP AGAIN PROBALLY SOONER THAN LATER. Get behind this bill. Yes, there are other problems but we need to start somewhere and this is as good of a place to start as any. Nearly everyone has had it with these ultra low prices and the huge loss in not only our milk checks but in the equity we have been burning up and the drop in the values we have seen in our cattle. People think the stock markets bad. Think again. Our loss is a double if not triple whammy - loss of our milk check-borrowing against our equity to keep going and deflation in the value of our equity. It would be like someone having a job in town - losing 1/2 the value in their 401k - having to borrow money against their equity just to keep their job, which by the way isn't paying them any wages, and lossing 1/2 the value in all their other assets. This is what dairy farmers are going through! We need to unite to save our ass. Otherwise we might as well kiss it goodbye.
4:10 PM Aug 3rd
 

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