The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) Board of Directors reaffirmed the organization’s support for a new farm bill, containing a better safety net for dairy farmers, at the Federation’s spring meeting Tuesday in Arlington.
With the Senate Agriculture Committee expected to begin work on a new farm bill next month, NMPF’s leadership said this week that a new, voluntary dairy program known as the Dairy Security Act (DSA), which combines margin insurance with market stabilization, remains critical to the future of the industry.
“Our members went through a tough year in 2012, with high feed costs and low milk prices putting the squeeze on farmers across the country,” said Randy Mooney, Chairman of NMPF, and a dairy farmer from Rogersville, Missouri. “Existing federal dairy programs don’t offer the type of safety net our members need, but the Dairy Security Act does.”
Mooney said that NMPF members were encouraged by a report delivered to them Monday from Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, who reaffirmed his support for the DSA and indicated that the House agriculture panel also will begin work on a farm bill this spring.
In another development Tuesday affecting NMPF and its members, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service announced that it will suspend the monthly milk production report for the remainder of fiscal year 2013, as a result of sequestration-reduced funding.
The monthly milk production report for February’s milk output will come out next Tuesday, but the next six reports for April through September will be suspended, as will the Milk Production, Disposition and Income (Milk PDI) reports previously scheduled for release next month.
NMPF President and CEO Jerry Kozak said that, “Eliminating the USDA’s monthly milk production report through September will detrimentally affect how decisions are made about the marketing of milk, starting at, but not ending with, the farm level.”
“This report is important for ongoing industry outlook purposes, and it’s also an essential input for estimating the monthly commercial disappearance of all dairy products, which is of importance to the dairy promotion program,” Kozak said.
He noted that among the other NASS report suspensions, “Dairy is the only major commodity that will be substantially affected. The July Cattle report consists of a mid-year update of the January Cattle report, which is obviously not affected by the current fiscal year suspension, and other NASS reports will continue to report non-dairy cattle inventory information.”
“This decision is a concern to NMPF as well as to the entire dairy industry, and we will need to have further discussions with USDA about why an extremely important informational tool involving a major commodity is being affected this way.”