Final Farm Bill Includes Some Good, Some Bad
Approved last week by a wide margin in the U.S. House and Senate, the new $300-billion Farm Bill does little to reform current dairy programs, but it includes dairy forward contracting and a commission to improve federal milk pricing policies. While the White House has promised a veto, the margin of approval suggests that Congress will have the votes to override it.
"We commend both House and Senate leadership – especially Agriculture Committee chairmen Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), and ranking members Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) – for including several initiatives supported by IDFA. However, we were disappointed with the inclusion of a dairy import assessment and the overall lack of reform contained in the bill," said IDFA President and CEO Connie Tipton.
In addition to forward contracting, the final Farm Bill retained a directive to establish a blue ribbon commission to review the Federal Milk Marketing Order system, which IDFA had proposed. The commission will allow a diverse group of industry stakeholders to review the pricing system and recommend future changes.
IDFA believes the dairy import assessment, if implemented, will hurt the growing dairy export market, and helped to keep language in the final bill calling for a sign-off by the U.S. Trade Representative's office before the assessment goes into effect.
"We will make every effort to stop the imposition of this import assessment," Tipton said.
IDFA also opposed the reauthorization of the Dairy Export Incentive Program, a dormant export subsidy program, and the revisions to the sugar program that are included in the final bill.
"For dairy processors, the Farm Bill is also notable for what it does not contain," said Jerry Slominski, IDFA senior vice president. "Several onerous proposals were defeated before they got into the bill, like the proposal to adopt California’s higher nonfat solids standards for fluid milk products nationally, and to expand mandatory dairy price reporting to fluid milk and cultured products, and cheeses other than cheddar."
In a press conference, Representative Peterson said he expects the bill to reach the White House this week and that Congress likely will vote to override the anticipated veto before the upcoming Memorial Day recess.
To read IDFA's summary of the dairy and sugar provisions included in the final Farm Bill, members may click here. For more information, contact Ruth Saunders, IDFA senior director of policy and legislative affairs at email@example.com or 202-220-3553.
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Posted May 19, 2008