For Immediate Release
Dairy Processors Commend Senate for Passing Farm Bill
Amendment Extends Moratorium on Milk from Cloned Cows
(Washington, D.C. December 14, 2007) The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) commends the U.S. Senate for passing its version of the long-awaited 2007 Farm Bill yesterday by a vote of 79 to 14. The bill contains some positive programs for dairy, with the addition of a key amendment on animal cloning. Importantly, the Senate bill contains no provisions to implement a dairy import assessment and has the same provisions on dairy forward contracting as in the House-passed bill. It also calls for a commission to improve federal milk pricing policies. These provisions were priorities for IDFA.
The Senate-passed Farm Bill contains the same fundamental package of dairy programs that was approved by the House of Representatives last July, including the dairy price supports and the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) payment program, despite urging by IDFA to move these to a more progressive safety net idea.
"We commend Agriculture Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) for their leadership in passing a Farm Bill that supports a number of positive programs for dairy producers, processors and consumers," said Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO. "We look forward to working with both the Senate and House Committees to craft a final bill that keeps these positive provisions for the dairy industry."
The Senate-passed Farm Bill raises the level of payments to dairy farmers through the MILC program, and sets a price floor under cheese, butter, and nonfat dry milk. Both of these farm support programs are considered trade distorting by the World Trade Organization. However, by excluding a tax on imported dairy products, the Senate bill successfully avoids dairy programs negatively impacting overall growth in U.S. agricultural trade.
Another important provision to the dairy industry was in the area of cloned cows, led by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). Her amendment would require further scientific study in tandem with an economic and trade analysis of the impact of allowing milk and milk products from cloned animals to enter the food supply. Under the Farm Bill provision, both studies would be required to be completed before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is allowed to lift the current moratorium on milk and meat from cloned animals entering the marketplace
"Both IDFA and National Milk Producers Federation supported the amendment, and the dairy industry as a whole is very concerned about the lack of responsiveness by the FDA on this issue," said Tipton.
It's now up to the Senate and House Agriculture Committees to agree on the provisions of the final bill during conference, which will take place early in 2008. Congress expects to gain approval for extending the 2002 Farm Bill programs until March 15, 2008, as a stopgap measure.
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The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, DC, represents the nation's dairy manufacturing and marketing industries and their suppliers, with a membership of 530 companies representing a $90-billion a year industry. IDFA is composed of three constituent organizations: the Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), the National Cheese Institute (NCI) and the International Ice Cream Association (IICA). IDFA's 220 dairy processing members run more than 600 plant operations, and range from large multi-national organizations to single-plant companies. Together they represent more than 85% of the milk, cultured products, cheese and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States. IDFA can be found online at www.idfa.org