Dairy Policy Changes Years Away

November 16, 2009 06:00 PM
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) is taking a slow and deliberate approach to what could be termed a stunning departure from current dairy policy. And don't expect any more details on NMPF's plans until 2010, and likely no policy changes until the 2012 Farm Bill.
"Our expectations is that these changes will be tackled in the 2012 Farm Bill debate,” says Chris Galen, NMPF spokesperson. "Congress has shown little interest in any stand-alone changes to dairy policy before then.
"We don't want to rush into this. We want to anticipate all the questions we'll get on our proposals, and want to have all the I's dotted and T's crossed before we go public,” Galen says.
But the slow pace of change left some dairy producers extremely frustrated with the lack of urgency following NMPF's annual meeting in Dallas, Tex. last week. "NMPF is not interested any policy proposals that doesn't have its name on it,” one large Western dairy producer told Dairy Today. "None of their proposals address the huge volatility in price swings that we're operating under.”
Indeed, that appears to be case. "We are not focused on any type of supply management or growth management program at his time,” says Galen.
Instead, NMPF is looking to re-vamp the Federal Dairy Price Support Program, possibly doing away with dairy price supports and the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program. In their place, NMPF would like to see new risk management tools including a "Dairy Producer Income Protection (Insurance) Program.” Money saved by doing away with price support and MILC payments could be applied to subsidizing insurance premiums.
NMPF also wants to reform the Federal Milk Marketing Orders program, though specifics are still very sketchy. The group has said it is willing to do away with manufacturing make allowances.
Finally, NMPF would like wider-spread producer participation in its Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) program. Currently, just 70% of milk production is contributing 10¢/cwt to fund the program. Non-participating farms cannot bid their herds into the CWT herd retirement programs, and non-participating firms cannot participate in the CWT export assistance program.
For more information on NMPF proposals, go to Doug Nuttelman's testimony to the Senate Agriculture Committee last month. Nuttelman is a Nebraska dairy producer and NMPF Board member.

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