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Dairy Facts 2016

Dairy Leaders Deliver US Policy Insights at MILK Conference

Nov 08, 2017
(L-R) Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation; Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council; Tyne Morgan, host of U.S. Farm Report; Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO.

Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO, joined leaders of other dairy organizations on a panel discussion about dairy policy this week at the MILK Business Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Dykes spoke along with Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, and Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, sharing insight into how U.S. dairy will be affected by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) modernization efforts, the farm bill and proposed immigration legislation.

The conference, Nov. 6-8, offered sessions on dairy marketing, farm technology, feed science, business planning and more. It drew an audience of dairy farmers and business owners and managers from across the country.

Dykes highlighted that U.S. trade policy and the farm bill are areas that provide the industry with important ways to sustain growth and get dairy products to those who need them. “I think we have a bright future, but exports have got to be a part of that picture,” he said.

Regarding NAFTA, Dykes described IDFA’s current efforts to ensure that the industry’s trade relationship with Mexico remains robust and to improve American dairy market access in Canada, as well as on the global market.

He also stressed the importance of having an aggressive U.S. trade policy to open markets for U.S. dairy products in other countries.

Farm Bill

At home, Dykes said the farm bill is an important opportunity to help people get the nutrition they need from dairy products. He said IDFA is pushing to include voluntary incentives to increase fluid milk consumption in the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP). IDFA also is advocating for provisions that would improve the ability of Class I processors, co-ops and producers to hedge price risk, and to extend the current Dairy Forward Pricing Program for other classes of milk.

All three CEOs stressed their support for a farm bill that includes enhancements to the Margin Protection Program (MPP), which is a voluntary safety net program included in the previous farm bill. MPP allows dairy operations to protect their margins against both downturns in milk prices and rising livestock feed prices.


Immigration legislation is growing in importance to both dairy farmers and dairy product companies, the leaders said. They provided updates on a proposed Agricultural Guestworker Act, which would replace the nation’s current guest worker visa program with one that could address the needs of the dairy industry, which needs workers year-round, not just for seasonal work.

The panel discussion was filmed live and will be available on the U.S. Farm Report website this Saturday.

For more information, contact Heather Soubra, IDFA chief of staff, at

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