The House Agriculture Committee today rejected an amendment to the 2012 Farm Bill that would have eliminated the Dairy Market Stabilization Program and replaced it with a dairy farmer safety net without the government-mandated supply management provision. With a vote of 29-17, committee members decided against the amendment introduced by Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) and co-sponsored by Rep. David Scott (D-GA).
The committee is marking up its version of the 2012 Farm Bill, which includes the Dairy Market Stabilization Program in the Dairy Security Act. IDFA opposes the program because it will impose a complex and costly regulatory burden on dairy foods companies and stifle both export opportunities and future investment in the industry.
"We applaud Mr. Goodlatte and Mr. Scott for their leadership on this issue. We also appreciate the broad support garnered for this amendment by a large coalition that now includes dairy producer groups, food trade and restaurant associations, consumer protection groups and taxpayer watchdog groups," said Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO. "Opposition to the amendment has been steadily growing as more people become aware of the controversial plan to impose milk supply limits on the dairy industry."
IDFA expects that the amendment will be considered once again when the full House debates the bill, called the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM).
"Today’s close vote, with bipartisan support, proves that our chances of winning a vote on the House floor when the Farm Bill is brought for a vote are excellent," Tipton said. "We look forward to helping Congress pass legislation that will provide a safety net for dairy farmers without limiting our industry’s ability to grow, create jobs and help our nation’s economy."
Goodlatte also introduced an amendment to reform the sugar program, which was rejected by a 36-10 vote.
Goodlatte-Scott Amendment Details
The Goodlatte-Scott amendment would provide margin protection for farmers without relying on a supply management program to fund it. It would help reduce price volatility in dairy markets without limiting the growth of the dairy industry.
Annual fees under the amendment would be less than those in the chairman’s mark, and most dairy farmers will actually pay less in premiums for equivalent coverage. In addition, dairy farmers would not lose income due to the stabilization program.
The Goodlatte-Scott amendment would allow about 90 percent of all dairy farms to get the $4 margin insurance at no cost, similar to the program it replaces. Yet, under the Goodlatte-Scott approach, there would be no administrative fees, and farmers would not be subjected to limits on milk production at any time.
"This is an excellent dairy alternative that leaves the provisions of the Dairy Security Act 80 percent intact, but it removes the most controversial item, supply management, which processors and many producers agree is bad policy," said Jerry Slominski, IDFA senior vice president of legislative and economic affairs.
For more information, contact Slominski at firstname.lastname@example.org.