IDFA Holds First Congressional Briefing on Dairy Reform
Addressing a packed audience in the U.S. House Agriculture Room on Capitol Hill last week, IDFA staff members conducted a "Briefing on the State of the Dairy Industry" for congressional staff interested in dairy and agriculture issues. During this year's first dairy-specific House briefing, IDFA Chief Economist Dr. Bob Yonkers outlined the structural changes experienced by the dairy industry over the past quarter-century while IDFA Senior Vice President Chip Kunde discussed the industry's future challenges and opportunities.
Yonkers began by explaining how annual farm milk production, after decades of stagnant growth, increased by more than 50 billion pounds during the last 25 years. He pointed out that this growth in milk production occurred despite declining per-capita consumption of fluid milk, adding that more of the milk produced on American farms today is going into non-fluid products, such as cheese.
"The dairy industry has also evolved geographically in recent years, with dairy farms experiencing the highest growth and expansion in western and southwestern states," Yonkers said.
Turning to the industry's future, Kunde offered a preview of the issues that IDFA members and staff will discuss with members of Congress during this week's Washington Conference.
"Volatility is a fact of life for all commodities, and now is the time for Congress to provide all dairy farmers and processors with access to more risk management options," Kunde said. "IDFA believes forward contracting is the most appropriate and widely used tool for dealing with volatility."
He emphasized that IDFA will continue working with Congress to achieve much needed improvements in dairy programs as legislators consider the 2007 Farm Bill.
"The next Farm Bill provides the best opportunity to begin a transition toward a single, national safety net that will not interfere with the market but will increase the competitiveness of American dairy goods both domestically and internationally," Kunde said.
IDFA plans to hold a similar briefing for U.S. Senate staff members on June 21. The briefings build a better base of understanding of industry issues and are made possible through IDFA member support of the Dairy Education Fund (DEF). The DEF provides resources to inform congressional and policy experts about the issues facing the dairy processing industry. Donations can be made through corporate funds. For more information about the DEF or the briefings, contact Kristin Wilcox, firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 220-3508.
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Posted June 12, 2006