Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe announced last Tuesday that legislators would be able to help dairy farmers without imposing a tax on milk and other dairy products sold in the state. The announcement came just one day after IDFA and its Coalition Against the Milk Tax ran a newspaper ad urging consumers to call the governor and ask him to veto the bill.
The Arkansas legislature recently passed the bill, which would have placed a 30-cent per hundredweight tax on nearly all dairy products distributed in the state. The bill, which reached the governor's desk last Monday, was intended to collect revenues that could be made available to dairy farmers when farm milk prices are low. A separate bill actually provided for the grants to farmers.
Working with the Arkansas Grocers and Retail Merchants Association, as well as IDFA members with Arkansas distribution operations, IDFA quickly developed and placed the full-page ad in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. The ad featured a smiling child holding a glass of milk with the headline "Do I look like a cash cow to you?" It included a call to action along with the governor's phone number.
"Thanks to the coalition's quick action and creativity, we were able to demonstrate to the governor that the bill was ill-conceived and would have placed an unfair economic burden on his constituents," said Jerry Slominski, IDFA senior vice president of legislative policy and economic affairs. "We truly appreciate the local support we received from IDFA members and others in our coalition."
According to an Associated Press report, the governor said he found more than $9 million in an alternative fuels program that could be used for the state's dairy farmers instead. The bill's sponsor filed a motion last week to recall the legislation from the governor's desk.