Sen. Bob Casey (Dem., Penn.) has offered the first real legislative alternative to the National Milk Producer Federation’s "Foundation for the Future" dairy reform package.
"By simplifying the system and rewarding innovation, our farmers will be better prepared to compete in today’s marketplace," says Casey.
Casey’s "Dairy Advancement Act," S. 1682, would not include any supply or growth management component, but would continue the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program or allow dairy producers to enroll in the Livestock Gross Margin-Dairy program. The bill also repeals the Dairy Product Price Support Program, and make low interest loans available to processors to retrofit their plants to shift products that have broader demand.
The plan would also direct the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a two-class system under Federal Milk Marketing Orders. The first class would be for fluid milk; the second for manufactured products. (The current system includes four classes: Fluid, soft dairy products, cheese and milk powder.)
The bill would also enhance market transparency by increasing the frequency of dairy price reporting.
The bill received immediate support from processors. "Most importantly, the bill will not hamstring our industry with a new government program to limit milk supply as does the controversial Peterson [Dairy Security Act of 2011
] proposal," says Connie Tipton, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association.
The National Milk Producers Federation were cool to the proposal. In a statement released this morning, NMPF said: "NMPF remains focused on passing legislation that most closely mirrors our Foundation for the Future program, specifically the Dairy Security Act (DSA) that has been introduced in both the Senate and House. The DSA is the end result of two years of analysis and debate by dairy farmers. We believe it provides the best means to protect producers equity, while allowing growth and stabilizing markets as needed."