Co-ops, Processors Weigh in on Farm Bill Conference Committee

October 30, 2013 11:39 AM

Both the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), representing most of the nation’s dairy cooperatives, and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), representing dairy processors, weighed in on the Farm Bill conference committee action.

NMPF supports the Dairy Security Act, which passed the Senate handily. It includes a dairy stabilization program, which would require participating producers to cut production in times of low margins. IDFA support the House dairy bill, which does not include the stabilization program. See their full releases below.

NMPF statement:

"At long last, the House and Senate are poised to finish their work on a final farm bill package. For America’s dairy farmers, this is no time for a game of congressional trick or treat. The final product must provide farmers real stability, and not be a costumed disguise that masks the serious problems that will result if the House dairy program were enacted.

"The Senate’s bipartisan Dairy Security Act is the only option that will provide help to farmers when they need it most, while also limiting taxpayers’ exposure through its market stabilization mechanism. It’s an important safety net to farmers when they need it, and not an underfunded liability to the government when the program is in operation.

"In contrast, the proposal that finally emerged from the House is a bad trick: it would be fiscally irresponsible and ineffective. Lacking the Senate’s market stabilization program, the House approach would cause farmers to suffer prolonged periods of poor margins, while taxpayers subsidize dairy processors through artificially-low milk prices.

"We strongly encourage the farm bill conferees to support the dairy title language in the Senate bill, and to include its provisions in the final package."

IDFA Statement:

"IDFA looks forward to a successful completion of a new farm bill and strongly encourages the Conference Committee to accept the House dairy language and to include its provisions in the final bill. Milk prices would significantly increase and jobs will be lost if the Senate prevails over the House on this issue. The conference should follow the lead of the House of Representatives, which rejected this controversial new dairy program to impose milk quotas on dairy farmers by a more than two to one margin -- 291-135 -- including almost half of the House Democrats. Including a proposal that was rejected with such a strong and rare bipartisan vote makes little sense if conferees truly want to get a farm bill passed yet this year.

"The Senate’s version of the farm bill includes a new "dairy stabilization program" that was decisively rejected by the House and according to the Congressional Research Service, is designed to raise milk prices. It is a hidden tax on our nation’s more than 47 million people who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and would reduce their ability to meet USDA nutrition guidelines, which recommend three servings of dairy products per day. The Senate’s proposal to increase milk prices could erode SNAP recipients’ ability to meet dairy nutrition recommendations by as much as $1.9 billion, which is equal to a nearly 50 percent increase in the SNAP cuts already included in the Senate bill. The incorrectly named stabilization program will also put the brakes on dairy export growth at a cost of thousands of new jobs.

"The House dairy title strongly supports our nation’s 50,000 dairy farmers by including a new and effective revenue insurance program that will help them when prices drop. The House title more effectively targets benefits to small producers and costs about the same as the Senate dairy title. By eliminating the controversial and divisive stabilization program, the House language is a compromise approach that should be retained in the final bill."

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