I’ve already logged a few thousand air and road miles in 2011: Arizona, Washington, D.C., Florida, Georgia (twice), Indiana, Wisconsin (twice), South Dakota and, of course, Minnesota. Everywhere I go, I ask dairy producers what they think of the National Milk Producers Federation’s Foundation for the Future (FFTF) plan.
Usually, I get that "deer in the headlights" look—confusion, not sure what to think of it, don’t know enough about it. Others boil it down to "that supply management plan" or "that crop insurance plan for dairy" or "they want to take my MILC payments away."
I’ll grant you this: FFTF is complex. There are a lot of moving parts to this plan. And ghosts of all of the above are in it: elimination of dairy price supports and the Milk Income Loss Contract; income over feed cost margin insurance; supply/growth management (which NMPF calls market stabilization); and Federal Orders reform.
Because the plan is so daunting, we’ve devoted about 80% of this magazine to FFTF. By reading through this issue, you’ll get a better understanding of what the plan actually includes, what leading dairy economists think of it, what producers think of it, who is for it and who is against it. Online, we provide even more coverage and links to in-depth analysis by the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, the University of Wisconsin and Cal Poly.
If you take the time to study the articles and resources we offer, you’ll be in a much better position to decide if FFTF is a better way forward.
I think it is. For me, the key to the future success of the U.S. dairy industry lies in the global market. This year, we might export as much as 15% of all the milk solids we produce. Loss of that market, even a third of it, will have huge price impacts here at home. I think FFTF starts to position the U.S. as a long-term global player.
In the end, though, what I think doesn’t matter. What you think does. So put your feet up, read this issue and reach your own conclusions.