Milk producers seek right to reduce output when prices are low

Milk producers and dairy processors are clearly at odds over major new dairy legislation now in Congress. The Dairy Security Act of 2011 is backed by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), which said the legislation is modeled on its proposals and would improve the farm-level safety net for producers. Under the legislation, the Dairy Market Stabilization Program would reduce milk output at times when milk prices are low. Connie Tipton, CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), calls the bill’s pricing provisions unacceptable.

“IDFA opposes milk pricing regulations that increase the already significant regulatory burden on processors, put pressure on declining milk sales and increase costs for consumers, as well as many government nutrition and feeding programs that are already stretched to serve Americans who are struggling to feed their families,” Tipton states.

She says the legislation would give dairy cooperatives “the power to veto rules” developed by the Secretary of Agriculture. The bill was introduced in the House in late September.

Trade agreements expand US surplus

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) praised President Obama’s signing of free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. The agreements are critically important to increasing exports of US food and consumer products.

“We applaud President Obama for signing free trade agreements [FTAs] with Colombia, Panama and South Korea,” says Pamela G. Bailey, GMA president and CEO. “The food, beverage and consumer packaged goods [CPG] industry exports $50 billion worth of goods to 215 countries around the globe, generating a $10 billion trade surplus.

“By creating a level playing field, the FTAs with South Korea, Panama and Colombia will increase our competitiveness in these countries and help the food, beverage and CPG industry innovate, expand and create new jobs,” says Bailey.

“Our competitors have negotiated their own trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. The European Union’s trade agreement with South Korea went into effect July 1, and a trade agreement between Colombia and Canada became effective August 15,” adds Bailey.