As summer temperatures rise, so does the heat on the debate over the federal Farm Bill. With more than 27 dairy farmer organizations supporting the Dairy Security Act in the 2012 Farm Bill, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are getting an earful on what will benefit dairy farmers best.
Larry Purdom, Missouri Dairy Association president and a dairy farmer from Purdy, Missouri, sent a letter on behalf of a coalition of organizations to Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich), the Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.
The letter also reached the desk of Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), Ranking Member of the committee. The letter stated "it is time to reform federal dairy policy by enacting the Dairy Security Act as part of the next Farm Bill."
"The Dairy Security Act is an update to our safety net policies for the 21st Century. It provides flexibility and options for each individual dairy. Not only can the provisions in the legislation be customized to each dairy, there is also an option for any dairy to completely exempt itself from the programs."
The dairy farmers coalition isn't the only group speaking out about the Dairy Security Act. The dairy cooperative of farmers in New England, known as Agri-Mark - which also owns Cabot Cheese - is not remaining quiet on the issue either. Bob Wellington, who handles Agri-Mark's economics and legislative issues, said the Dairy Security Act would offer incentives in the form of insurance for farmers to lower their production when there's an oversupply of milk to try to rebalance the market and stabilize prices, according to Vermont Public Radio.
"When the price of milk falls, cows still eat the same amount of feed. And they use the same amount of electricity and diesel fuel and all the other costs," said Wellington.
"So the only thing that farmers can do is actually increase milk production to keep up their total revenue to try to pay their bills. And when that happens, it aggravates the supply and demand problem and makes it worse. So it's a terrible downward cycle when it occurs. And it only stops when farmers go out of business and that's what we want to avoid happening."
The dairy farming organizations in support of the Dairy Security Act are:
Alabama Dairy Producers, Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI), Agri-Mark, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), Dairy Farmers Working Together, Dairy Producers of New Mexico, Dairy Producers of Utah, Dairylea Cooperative Inc., Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, Holstein Association USA, Inc., Idaho Dairyman's Association, Land O'Lakes, Maryland Dairy Industry Association, Michigan Milk Producers, Midwest Dairy Coalition, Milk Producers Council, Missouri Dairy Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Farmers Organization, National Milk Producers Federation, Northwest Dairy Association / Darigold, Oregon Dairy Farmers Association, South Carolina Dairy Association, St. Albans Cooperative Creamery, United Dairymen of Arizona, Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc. and the Washington State Dairy Federation.
by RTT Staff Writer
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