A proposal to increase the tariff on milk protein concentrates has failed to make it out of committee in the House. That means dairy producers won’t be getting any help from Congress to stop the influx of imported MPCs any time soon.

The bipartisan tariff proposal, which was attached to the trade bill, was sponsored by Rep. Dave Obey (D-Wis.) and Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-Iowa) and had 69 co-sponsors.

MPC is a relatively new product that has managed to avoid the high tariffs placed on other dairy imports. MPC imports have jumped from 905 metric tons in 1990 to about 44,000 metric tons today.

The U.S. dairy industry argues that imported MPC displaces domestic milk products and lowers the price of Class III milk used in cheese production.

Bob Cropp, extension dairy economist at the University of Wisconsin told Knight Ridder that while MPC does reduce demand for non-fat dry milk and whey, he said he doesn't believe anyone truly knows how much it actually displaces. However, Cropp agrees that MPC imports should be limited until more is known on their effect on domestic dairy prices. Or, “we should be making it ourselves.”

Knight Ridder Tribune Business News