Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) recently introduced legislation to modify several existing dairy programs, including an extension of the current payment rate under the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill. New York is the third largest dairy producing state, and Senator Gillibrand is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, which has jurisdiction over dairy policy.
Gillibrand introduced four bills that would amend existing dairy programs:
- S. 456, the Cold Storage Reporting Improvement Act of 2011, would require monthly reports to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) on dairy products and other products that are stored in cold storage. These statistics are currently gathered on a voluntary basis, but they are necessary for USDA to administer the pricing regulations under the Federal Milk Marketing Orders. IDFA members currently report monthly statistics to NASS.
- S. 457, the Democracy for Dairy Producers Act of 2011, would require greater transparency in the amendment process under the Federal Milk Marketing Orders by requiring each region to provide information regarding proposed amendments and the process by which individual farmers can cast a vote.
- S. 458, the Milk Quality Standards Act of 2011, would lower the maximum somatic cell count allowed for fluid milk from 750,000 cells per milliliter to 400,000 cells per milliliter. Currently, farmers may be given financial incentives by dairy manufacturers for milk with lower counts, because it produces better yields in cheese production.
- S. 459, the MILC Preservation Act of 2011, would maintain the current payment rate under the MILC program through September 2012. Currently, the MILC payment rate is set to drop on August 31, 2012, one month prior to the expiration of the 2008 Farm Bill. This bill would ensure a consistent payment rate through the current Farm Bill, guaranteeing that the funding is maintained for dairy programs.
"We applaud Senator Gillibrand for her leadership in developing several proposals to help our dairy industry," said Ruth Saunders, IDFA vice president of policy and legislative affairs. "We look forward to working with her on improving our current dairy programs and exploring other policy improvements, such as an expansion of risk management programs for dairy."
The Senate Agriculture Committee has not yet released a schedule for consideration of the next Farm Bill. No legislation has been introduced that would authorize the controversial supply control regulations included in the National Milk Producers Federation's proposed "Foundation for the Future." IDFA is opposed to government-mandated supply-control programs.
For more information, contact Saunders at firstname.lastname@example.org.