Producers in No. 3 dairy state back comprehensive dairy reform.
Source: IDA news release
TWIN FALLS ID – The members of Idaho Dairymen’s Association (IDA) voted overwhelmingly Friday to adopt the “Foundation for the Future” (FFTF) a program, created by the National Milk Producers Federation. The vote had 82% of those voting in favor to add FFTF in their policy as their official platform for making future changes in dairy policy in the 2012 Farm Bill.
At a special meeting of the membership here, the members of IDA endorsed the package of policy reforms contained in Foundation for the Future, and pledged to work with farmers in other states to help advance the program in the U.S. Congress.
This was the first time in the collective memory of the board members that there was a call by the board to have a special meeting of the membership to vote on a proposed policy position, according to Bob Naerebout, executive director of IDA. Historically, policies decisions are made at the fall annual meeting.
Naerebout noted that, after conducting four district meetings on the subject, interest was high, which was clearly demonstrated by the board endorsing FFTF and calling for a special meeting of the membership.
IDA said even with springtime work beckoning them to stay engaged in their operations, twice as many producers participating in this vote as in the average fall membership meetings.
To add to the understanding of FFTF, IDA brought in three guest speakers: Jim Sleper Director of Milk Supply for Dairy Foods at Land O'Lakes, Inc.; Dr. Scott Brown with the Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute (FAPRI), University of Missouri; and Mr. John Revier, Deputy Chief of Staff for Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson.
“Our industry has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make dramatic improvements in dairy policy, but the only way we’ll achieve that is to work together, both in Idaho as well as across the country, to pursue a specific program,” said Mike Roth, president of IDA and a farmer in Jerome County. “I believe, and our members believe, that the package of reforms contained in Foundation for the Future represents the best approach going forward and has the best opportunity of being adopted in the 2012 Farm Bill if the dairy industry is standing united behind one program.”
Roth said that creating a new program, focused on margins and not just milk prices, has great appeal to Idaho’s dairy farmers, whose economic prospects in recent years have been challenged by the rise in feed prices such as corn, alfalfa and soybeans.
“Our current policy position already calls for the elimination of the MILC program and the dairy price support program,” Roth said. “The Margin Insurance and the Dairy Stabilization Program were new pieces that our producers needed to develop an understanding and determine if they could support.”
Roth also said that the Dairy Market Stabilization Program is an acceptable means of help to adjust milk production during periods when margins are severely compressed, saying that “this program allows producers to grow production, but it also recognizes that we need smart growth, not just more milk that is produced and sold at a loss.”
After learning of the decision by Idaho dairy producers, Jerry Kozak President and CEO of NMPF said, “The decision by IDA demonstrates that dairy producers in Idaho, to their great credit, are willing and able to play a key role in leading our entire industry toward a better future. We look forward to working with them, and producers in other states, to achieve the goals contained in Foundation for the Future.”