This week, the Board of Directors of Milk Producers Council (MPC) voted to endorse legislation unveiled last week by Congressman Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota), which would implement reforms to our national dairy policies and is based on National Milk Producers Federation’s (NMPF) “Foundation for the Future” proposal. The “discussion draft” of the legislation, along with a detailed summary of the bill, can be found here.
“With this vote, the MPC Board sent a strong message that it’s time for dairy farmers from coast-to-coast to rally behind a common plan,” said MPC President Sybrand Vander Dussen, a dairyman from Corona, Calif. “We have a rare opportunity to get much-needed fundamental improvements for the producer side of our industry, and Rep. Peterson’s legislation is the only shot we have at getting those positive reforms approved by Congress and implemented.”
The legislative draft released by Peterson, who is the Ranking Democrat on the U.S. House of Representative’s Agriculture Committee, includes the three main pieces outlined in NMPF’s Foundation for the Future:
- Dairy Market Stabilization Program (DMSP)
- Dairy Producer Margin Protection Program (DPMPP)
- Reform of Federal Milk Marketing Orders
Prior to endorsing Foundation for the Future, the MPC Board had the opportunity to review Congressman Peterson’s draft of the legislation, which includes some modifications from the original plan outlined by NMPF. These changes were made in an effort to make the legislation more appealing to a Congress that is clearly in a serious cost-cutting mode.
“While we’d probably all prefer to operate in a world where Congressional budget constraints don’t exist, the fact is that they do, and these changes are part of that reality,” said Rob Vandenheuvel, MPC’s General Manager. “At the end of the day, the structure of the legislation remains intact, with a standby, rarely-used Market Stabilization tool that will empower dairy farmers to collectively respond to market imbalances while not impeding our ability to grow the industry long-term, a dramatically improved safety net that treats all dairies the same and fundamental reforms of Federal Orders. This is a package of reforms that the MPC Board is proud to support.”
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) – the main lobbying organization for the nation’s dairy product processing companies that purchase a majority of the nation’s milk supply – has come out strongly against this legislation. They aim most of their opposition at the Dairy Market Stabilization Program that could temporarily trigger in when needed and empower the nation’s roughly 60,000 dairy farmers to collectively respond to market imbalances. IDFA is counting on dairy farmers doing what we often do: letting regional or size differences get in the way of unifying behind a common plan.