September 4, 2013 — Congress returns to work Monday but they won’t have a lot of time to pass a new farm bill. Jerry Slominski, International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) joined us Wednesday
with this month’s Processors’ Perspective:
Congress returns to Washington next week and the farm bill is high on the list of things need to be completed. With only a few legislative days remaining until the current bill expires at the end of September, don’t be surprised if there isn’t at least one more short term extension before a final bill is completed.
As for dairy, the impact of the vote by the House of Representatives to reject supply management for our industry is still sinking in. At a time when party line votes are the norm, supply management was rejected by a vote of 291-135. Dozens of progressive and moderate Democrats agreed with nearly 200 conservative Republicans that now is hardly the time to adopt a new program that would impose periodic quotas on the amount of milk a farmer can sell.
How did dairy supply management go down to such a sound defeat? Politics are always important, but given the bipartisan support for the Goodlatte/Scott amendment, it’s clear this vote was not so much about politics, as it was about what would be the best policy for our industry and our country. One consideration that weighs heavily against supply management is the emergence of exports as a major growth area. After decades of think exports as a way to rid the U.S. of dairy surplus products, our industry now sees that exports are a huge opportunity that benefits both producers and manufacturers. Half-way through this year, dairy exports are at an all time high. Up 15 percent over last years record and now account for nearly 16 percent of U.S. milk solids production.
As shown by Canada, supply management stands in the way of export growth and the jobs it would create. While the House rejected a program to increase government control dairy markets, it also endorsed a new expanded revenue insurance program for dairy producers and adopted over three-fourths of the reforms proposed by the Dairy Security Act. Compromise, as seen by some as a dirty word, but by passing the compromised Goodlatte/Scott amendment, the House has adopted dairy policy for the future instead of the past.
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