A key element of dairy policy reform has survived a challenge in Congress.
The Goodlatte-Scott amendment, sponsored by U.S. Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and David Scott (D-Ga.), would have removed market stabilization from the House version of the 2012 Farm Bill.
Market stabilization, or "supply management" as opponents refer to it, is intended to discourage milk production increases in times of tight profit margins.
On Wednesday, the House Agriculture Committee voted 29-17 to reject the amendment, leaving market stabilization intact.
The House Ag Committee appears to favor the key reforms passed by the U.S. Senate, including a margin protection program for dairy farmers in times of tight profit margins, as well as market stabilization. The reforms would be voluntary; however, if producers wanted to participate in the margin protection program -- a type of insurance coverage -- they would also have to agree to market stablization.
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) praised the committee's action.
"We commend those members of the House Agriculture Committee who today defeated an amendment to the 2012 Farm Bill that would have undone years of consensus-building and compromise among dairy farmers," said Jerry Kozak, president and CEO of NMPF, and Randy Mooney, Chairman of NMPF and a dairy farmer from Rogersville, Mo.
"We urge the committee to proceed with final approval of the 2012 Farm Bill this week, and will work to help assure passage of the measure in the full House of Representatives, and ultimately, obtain a new and better safety net program for America’s dairy producers," Kozak and Mooney said.
Meanwhile, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) expressed disappointment in the House Ag Committee vote.
“We applaud Mr. Goodlatte and Mr. Scott for their leadership on this issue, and thank the many members who voted in favor of the amendment,” said Connie Tipton, president of IDFA.
“We also appreciate the broad support garnered for this amendment by a large coalition that now includes dairy producer groups, food trade and restaurant associations, consumer protection groups and taxpayer watchdog groups. Opposition to the Dairy Market Stabilization Program has been steadily growing as more people become aware of this controversial plan that will impose milk supply limits on the dairy industry and increase regulations on businesses…
"Today’s close vote, with bipartisan support, proves that our chances are excellent of winning a vote on the House floor when the Farm Bill is brought for a vote. Speaker of the House John Boehner has already indicated his intention to speak out against supply management for dairy. We look forward to helping Congress pass forward-looking legislation that will provide a safety net for dairy farmers without limiting our industry’s ability to grow, create jobs and help our nation’s economy,” Tipton said.