IDFA Opposes New Processor Fees at Vermont Milk Commission Hearing
Ruth Saunders, IDFA senior director of policy communications, recently testified at a Vermont Milk Commission hearing held to consider the commission's plans to mandate fixed over-order premiums and new hauling charges for fluid milk sold in the state. In her testimony, Saunders explained that new fees would hurt the state's competitiveness among milk buyers and could even force some in-state dairies and processors to close.
"If buyers are forced to pay even higher prices for Vermont milk, they will buy their milk supplies elsewhere, shut down their plants or move production to another state," Saunders explained, adding, "The long-term economics are as simple as that."
Saunders also reminded commission members that Vermont's all-milk price of $23.50 per hundredweight in August exceeded the national average price of $21.70 per hundredweight. The price received by Vermont farmers last month was the highest in the state's history, compared to $13.30 just over a year ago.
Rather than tack on fees that would hurt Vermont's dairy sector, Saunders recommended several alternative support options for the commission to consider, such as dairy farmer tax credits, revenue insurance and centers for dairy excellence. For each alternative, Saunders provided case studies that demonstrated how other states have successfully helped their dairy farmers.
"IDFA and our member processors value stable and strong local milk production, and we believe it is important to help support dairy farms through policies that also maintain a viable dairy processing sector in the state," Saunders said.
Representatives from three IDFA members in Vermont Cabot Creamery, HP Hood and Saputo Cheese USA have either testified or will testify when the hearing reconvenes this month and again in November. Other members in Vermont are Franklin Foods and Rhino Foods.
Once the hearings are complete, the commission will consider the evidence presented and make its determination. IDFA will continue to monitor the hearing's progress.
To read Saunders's testimony, click here. For more information, contact Saunders at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-220-3553.
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Posted October 1, 2007