Speaking to dairy producers attending Dairy Days at the Colorado Farm Show, Gary Hanman, outlined the legislative priorities that the Dairy Farmers of America will pursue. According to Hanman, president and CEO of the producer cooperative, the DFA board identified a number of challenges that the dairy industry will face in 2001.

Among DFA’s legislative priorities in Congress this year:

1. Extend the price-support program. Dairy is the only agricultural group to still have price supports, explains Hanman. All other commodity programs get direct payments from the government. However, analysis by DFA shows that in the year 2000, milk prices paid to producers would have been $2.70 per hundredweight less, on average, if the price-support program had not been in place.

2. Develop a national inventory management plan. DFA supports a national inventory management system that is voluntary for producers, incentive-based, and with automatic triggers to self-adjust when it is needed and when it is not needed. To work, programs like this must be incentive-based, not penalty-driven, stresses Hanman.

3. Maintain Federal Order pricing. DFA supports the continuation of the Federal Order system of pricing milk based on its use. Within this pricing system, DFA would like to see the make allowance tightened, and see the pooling standards be revised to increase the shipping requirements to take advantage of pooling pricing.

4. Increase world trade. In order to increase dairy exports, we need to develop a world market that is open and competitive - a true free market, says Hanman. A major change needed to accomplish that is the elimination of subsidy programs in Europe.

5. Investigate income maintenance programs. All other commodity groups have accepted income maintenance payments as a replacement for price-support programs. Therefore, maintaining the dairy price-support program will become increasingly difficult. The dairy industry must investigate the possibility of shifting to at least a partial income maintenance program. The Market Loss Payments of 65 cents per hundredweight, which producers just received, are an example of income maintenance payments.

6. Support compacts. DFA supports the continuation of the Northeast Dairy Compact, provided the five additional states seeking admission are approved. DFA also supports the creation of a Southeast Dairy Compact.

7. Eradication of Johne's disease. DFA supports the development of an incentive program for the control and eradication of Johne's disease from the national dairy herd.

8. Continue checkoff supported promotion. In the dairy industry, checkoff funds from producers and processors have funded non-brand advertising such as the got milk campaign, milk mustache and cheese promotion programs. The dairy industry has seen consumption go up since these promotions started. DFA supports continuation of the checkoff.