Contact: Marti Pupillo
Marks Major Victory for U.S. Dairy Industry
(Washington, D.C. — April 11, 2006) President George Bush today signed into law the Milk Regulatory Equity Act (S. 2120), effectively closing a loophole that had allowed regulatory inequities between federal and state milk marketing orders in Arizona, California and Nevada. This bill, which passed the U.S. Senate in December and the U.S. House of Representatives late last month, marks a major victory for the U.S. dairy industry.
"We commend the President for signing this piece of legislation," said Chip Kunde, senior vice president of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). "His action today brings this long-fought battle to a close."
IDFA was part of an unprecedented national coalition of producer and processor groups that supported the measure, including the National Milk Producers Federation, the Dairy Institute of California, Western United Dairymen and the Dairy Farmers of America.
Kunde noted that several members of the Senate and House of Representatives were key to the bill's passage, especially Devin Nunes (R-CA), the bill's sponsor and champion; House Agriculture Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA); Jim Costa (D-CA); Dennis Cardoza (D-CA); Chairman of the Dairy Subcommittee Gil Gutknecht (R-MN); Ranking Member of the Agriculture Committee Collin Peterson (D-MN); and Jean Schmidt (R-OH), who spoke on the floor in support of the bill. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA), House Agriculture Committee Vice Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA) and Pete Sessions (R-TX) added their support.
Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Harry Reid (D-NV) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) were key champions of the bill in the Senate last December. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, was instrumental in moving the bill through the Senate with the full support of the Agriculture Committee.
Numerous IDFA member companies and their employees logged hundreds of calls and letters to voice their support for the bill as well.
The new law will make it illegal for plants in southwestern states to sell milk into a state milk marketing area from a federally regulated milk marketing area without complying with either state or federal pricing regulations. Specifically, milk processors in Arizona, including producer-handlers that sell more than three million pounds of fluid milk per month, will be required to comply with federal regulations. The legislation also clarifies that plants in Nevada selling into a federal milk marketing order now must abide by federal pricing regulations.
"As we approach the 2007 Farm Bill, we hope this marks the beginning of a willingness by industry, Congress and the administration to reevaluate U.S. dairy policy to reflect today's ever-changing marketplace," said IDFA President and CEO Connie Tipton.
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IDFA is the Washington, DC-based organization representing the nation's dairy processing and manufacturing industries and their suppliers. IDFA is composed of three constituent organizations: Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), National Cheese Institute (NCI) and International Ice Cream Association (IICA). Its 500-plus members range from large multinational corporations to single-plant operations, and represent more than 85% of the total volume of milk, cultured products, cheese, and ice cream and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States — an estimated $90-billion a year industry.