In a rare turn of events, there seems to be consensus between the U.S. House and Senate agriculture committees about when dairy reform should move through Congress. At least for now, it will remain where it has always been - within the farm bill.
In an interview with Agri-Pulse last week, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, clearly indicated her belief that dairy policy would not move ahead of the 2012 Farm Bill.
"The only reason to even talk about moving it separately would be if there was agreement on a package. At the moment, there is not," Stabenow said. "Frankly, I think, politically, it makes sense to move everything within the context of the farm bill."
Her comments mirror those made by House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) in interviews earlier this year. Lucas said he would consider moving a dairy reform package ahead of the farm bill only if the farmers and processors are united. Currently, the National Milk Producers Federation and IDFA have differing points of view on the path forward for dairy reform.
"We'd like to move ahead with proposals where IDFA and NMPF agree, such as the need for new risk insurance programs and the elimination of the price support program" said Jerry Slominski, IDFA senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy. "But we support making our Federal Milk Marketing Order system less complex instead of more, and strongly oppose any new mandatory program to have the government intervene in markets to control milk supply as this would clearly hurt our industry's ability to grow and create jobs."
At the spring board meeting in April, the board members of IDFA's constituent organizations endorsed a new package of dairy reform proposals and rejected NMPF's policy package, Foundation for the Future. IDFA is now scheduled to provide a policy briefing on its proposals to the House Dairy Caucus on May 19.
The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold its first field hearing on the farm bill in Lansing, Mich., on May 31. No legislation has yet been introduced that would serve as a dairy reform package.
For more information, contact Slominski at firstname.lastname@example.org.