Contact: Peggy Armstrong
More than 30 CEOs and Other Leaders Sign Letter to Vilsack,
Praising Leadership but Cautioning Against Divisive Measures
(Washington, D.C. - March 8, 2011) Leaders of more than 30 companies, all members of the International Dairy Foods Association, urged Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack to implement nearly all of the reforms recommended by the Dairy Industry Advisory Committee but urged him not to endorse any proposal to manipulate milk supplies or manage industry growth in a letter sent yesterday.
"We appreciate the many hours spent by the Dairy Industry Advisory Committee and your staff and commend the committee and your agency for developing many solid recommendations," the CEOs wrote. "We agree with nearly all of those recommendations and look forward to working with you and dairy producers to implement them. We are particularly encouraged by the emphasis of the committee on developing risk management products for dairy farmers to better provide them the tools to weather the storms of price volatility."
The business leaders cautioned, however, against supporting the committee's decision to endorse a "growth management" program, which was highly controversial and does not enjoy consensus support across the industry. It was approved in the committee by a narrow 9-8 margin.
They also noted IDFA's disappointment and shared frustration that the committee was unable to develop recommendations on how to reform the Federal Milk Marketing Order system.
"The International Dairy Foods Association has been working with representatives of the National Milk Producers Federation for over two years, without success, to find agreement on how to change our current pricing system. We will continue our efforts to find a path forward that works for producers and processors alike and urge that you not endorse any particular proposal on this issue but instead continue to work with us, NMPF, and other dairy stakeholders to find common ground."
The full letter can be found at KeepDairyStrong.com.
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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 550 companies representing a $110-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 percent of the milk, cultured products, cheese and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States.