The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry held its final Farm Bill hearing last week amid intensive discussions among committee members and their staff to develop consensus on the bill. Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO, submitted a statement for the record, urging the committee to reject any supply management proposals.
“Better risk management tools, including margin or other insurance products, for dairy farmers is the correct path forward for our industry,” Tipton wrote, “not direct government intrusion into dairy markets and increased regulatory burdens on food manufacturing businesses.
“There is a clear middle ground in this debate,” she continued. “We have supported making the U.S. Department of Agriculture pilot program, called Livestock Gross Margin – Dairy, permanent and increasing funding beyond the current $20 million per year cap. Dairy savings accounts would also help dairy farmers manage their businesses through the volatility of world dairy prices. There are many dairy producers, as well as at least one of the largest dairy coops in the country, who support these alternative approaches.”
Although the Senate committee is widely expected to move on a bill within the next few weeks, no date has been set for mark up. Once it's marked up and passed out of committee, the proposed Farm Bill would go to the Senate calendar. By tradition, the bill may then be called up for consideration by the full Senate at any time at the discretion of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
The House of Representatives will hold its second of four field hearings this Friday in Galesburg, Ill. Although processors have not been invited to testify, IDFA is working with members to submit written statements and urges any members in the area to attend the hearing.
Additional field hearings are scheduled for March 30 in Arkansas and April 20 in Kansas.
For more information, contact Jerry Slominski, IDFA senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.