Saying that government policies are leading to a catastrophe in the dairy industry, U.S. Rep. Mark Green (R-Wis.) says dairy compacts and the federal milk marketing order system impose anti-competitive barriers on the dairy industry.

In fact, these barriers, says Green, have led to the loss of 13,000 dairy farms in Wisconsin within the last 10 years. Wisconsin, with 21,000 dairy farms remaining, is still losing about four dairy farms per day. The only other state to see such losses has been Minnesota, where the number of dairy farms dropped from 15,000 a decade ago to 8,500 today.

Testifying before a House panel – the agriculture subcommittee on horticulture and livestock – Green said that the minimum milk price set by producers in dairy compacts hurts consumers and leads to overproduction and depresses milk prices elsewhere. As for the milk marketing orders that date back to 1937, Green said the order system still pays a greater reward for milk produced and used for fluid consumption based on its distance from Eau Claire, Wis. With the development of the interstate road system and refrigerated trucking, transporting milk across the country is no longer difficult. That means the price differential for Class I milk is no longer needed to encourage milk production in deficit states. In fact, 35 states now produce milk in excess of their local needs.

The House panel is currently hearing testimony on dairy compacts as well as other issues relating to national dairy policy and the upcoming farm bill.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel