Warren Erickson, chief operating officer of Anderson Erickson Dairy Company, testified last Friday at a U.S. House Agriculture Committee field hearing in Des Moines, Iowa. Erickson told committee members that he was optimistic about the future of the U.S. dairy industry as long as government policies and regulations encourage creativity and avoid supply management options.
The hearing is one in a series being held by the committee across the country to discuss agriculture policy in preparation for the 2012 Farm Bill.
Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) hosted the Iowa hearing. Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA), chairman of the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management, also attended along with Reps. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD), Jim Costa (D-CA) and Steve King (R-IA), who are all committee members. Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA), who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, also attended.
In his testimony, Erickson asked the committee to focus on creating a dairy farm safety net, encourage greater use of risk management tools, drop policies that aren't working and simplify the federal milk pricing system.
"I believe the concept of a farm safety net program that is designed around protecting a farmer's margin between their milk price and feed costs should be the central focus of this committee," Erickson said, "And the resources currently used for other programs, such as the dairy price support program, should be redirected."
His full testimony is available here.
David Lang, a dairy producer from Iowa, also testified at the hearing. Among other recommendations, Lang supported policies that would encourage long-term market development of value-added products, such as milk protein concentrates.
Despite continued disagreement within the industry over suggested supply management policies, there has been growing agreement and support for revenue or margin insurance programs.
"Today's field hearing was an important opportunity for my fellow members of the Agriculture Committee and me to hear from the very farmers, producers and agriculture players in Iowa who are impacted by the farm bill," said Boswell.
The committee also held field hearings in Idaho, California and Wyoming this week, and more are scheduled for next week. Throughout these hearings, Chairman Peterson has been supportive of the dairy industry joining together to reform dairy policies, saying the industry is "ahead of the curve" and "forward thinking."
The testimony from all House Agriculture hearings can be found here.
For more information, contact Ruth Saunders, IDFA vice president of policy and legislative affairs, at (202) 220-3553 or firstname.lastname@example.org.