What may prove to be the most emotional hearing yet in USDA/Department of Justice series of hearings on consolidation in agriculture is set to convene Friday in Madison, Wis.
Tomorrow’s hearing focuses on consolidation with the dairy industry. The witness list includes dairy farmers, U.S. Senators, Congressmen, Wisconsin’s Governor, economists, law professors and a whole host of officials from various organizations ranging from Dairy Farmers of America to Organic Valley Cooperative.
Cooperatives in general, and dairy cooperatives in particular, are nervous about the hearings. They fear the hearings are the first volley in a war to weaken the Capper-Volstead Act, which protects cooperatives from some anti-trust rules.
In a pre-emptive strike, Dairy Farmers of America released the following statement late yesterday:
“DFA was created by and operates on behalf of dairy farmers throughout the United States. We will attend the USDA/DOJ workshop in Madison, Wis., to support the value and benefits the Capper-Volstead Act provides to all dairy farmers, including DFA members. The workshop will provide an opportunity to talk about the 17,000 farm families we work to support every day.
“While a very small but vocal group has tried to cast a negative shadow on today’s cooperatives, we are proud of our efforts to support our members and hope the Madison workshop will provide a forum for fair and productive discussion about the industry.
“Our nation’s dairy farmers, including DFA members, are reeling from the worst economic situation they have ever seen. We appreciate the increased attention and focus on the dairy industry, and welcome others to join us in pushing for dairy policy changes that will bring much-needed relief to the farm.
“We fully support the open and transparent process these workshops provide, and are confident dairy cooperatives in general — and DFA in particular — will be seen as the vital tool for dairy farmers that they’ve always been.” --John Wilson, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Industry Affairs
Dairy Today will be covering the hearing. Look for our report on-line this weekend.