Earlier today, the House Committee on Agriculture once again took up the long-delayed Farm Bill. One of the first items for discussion was the bipartisan dairy policy reform amendment sponsored by Representatives Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and David Scott (D-GA). The amendment, known as the Dairy Freedom Act, mirrors nearly all of the provisions of the Dairy Security Act, championed by Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN), without tying margin insurance to the controversial and highly divisive supply management provision known as the Dairy Market Stabilization Program.
In his remarks, Goodlatte noted that the supply management proposal was “inconsistent with the intention of this bill” and “ignored” history.
Many members of the committee spoke in support of the Goodlatte-Scott plan. Representative Reid Ribble (R-WI) got to the heart of the issue by stating that every license plate in Wisconsin says “America’s Dairyland,” and dairy farmers in his state, the second largest for dairy production, were nearly unanimous in their opposition to supply management. Representative Chris Collins (R-NY) is a freshman from an upstate dairy producing region that is, he said, “home to hundreds of dairy farms, both large and small.” Colllins said he had prepared for this vote by talking to groups of dairy farmers and that he had found “nearly unanimous opposition” to supply management.
Although the amendment failed by a vote of 20-26, it received the support of a majority of Republicans, including Representative Rick Crawford (R-AR), the chairman of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over dairy programs, and several members, including Representatives Austin Scott (R-GA), Kristi Noem (R-SD), Martha Roby (R-AL) and Chris Gibson (R-NY), who all voted against the amendment last year.
The Farm Bill is expected to move in June or July to the floor of the full House, where the amendment is expected to have strong support.
“We believe that the House will ultimately take a strong position against a supply management policy that would restrict job growth, hurt middle-income families and add additional costs to nutrition programs that are losing funding in the Farm Bill,” said Jerry Slominski, IDFA senior vice president of legislative and economic affairs, in a statement distributed after the committee vote. “Also, the Goodlatte-Scott amendment would cost taxpayers less than the Dairy Security Act, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
“Because the Dairy Security Act is designed to raise prices on consumers and would hurt businesses up and down the food chain, this is not simply a fight between dairy processors and dairy cooperatives,” Slominski added. “The Goodlatte-Scott amendment is supported by a broad coalition of nearly 150 restaurant associations, food and retail associations, conservative and anti-tax groups, consumer protection and watchdog groups, food manufacturers, and many dairy producer groups.”
Read IDFA’s statement on the vote here.
For more information, contact Jerry Slominski, IDFA senior vice president of legislative and economic affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.