Legislation was at the forefront of conversations during the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis., this week.
Producers and the industry aren’t necessarily concerned with the Farm Bill expiration right now. It’s what happens if a new Farm Bill doesn’t get passed this year that could hurt the most.
"We’ve got a period right here now, for Congress to complete action on the Farm Bill, get this done, and if we can do it by January 1, we’ll be in good shape and we’ll have a program for the future," says Jim Mulhern, incoming CEO of National Milk Producers Federation. "The danger is if we Congress continues to stall, like we did last year and we don’t get a bill done, we need an effective safety net program, we don’t’ have one in place today, and that’s the real challenge we have before Congress right now. "
Mulhern says legislation, like the MILC payments have expired, but it’s the new proposed legislation he’s sees benefitting producers, that’s the Dairy Security Act. He says it’s imperative for the dairy industry’s future, because it would address the volatility of milk prices.
Not all producers agree with the entire program. AgDay spoke to a Wisconsin dairy farmer who says this will limit producers’ growth. He thinks dairy farmers should be able to milk as many cows as they want or need.
"If you want a comparison to the Dairy Stabilization Program to row crops, it would be like you planted 1,000 acres last year, and 200 acres comes up for rent right across the road, but you can’t plant corn in it because you’re restricted to only plant as much as you did the year before," explains John Pagel, who’s a dairy farmer in Green Bay, Wisconsin. "So, you can’t plant on that new land right across the road you just rented."
While Pagel doesn’t agree with the program, he knows a Farm Bill needs to get passed in order to have an adequate safety net in place. As it sits today, permanent law goes into effect January 1, 2014. That’s what would cause milk prices to skyrocket. While most people AgDay spoke to don’t see that happening, it’s still a threat on the table today.
Read, watch and see all of Dairy Today's coverage of the 2013 World Dairy Expo.