After three years of effort to close a serious loophole in milk marketing regulations, NMPF, working with a broad-based dairy industry coalition, was successful in helping to pass the Milk Regulatory Equity Act in the House of Representatives.

 On a vote Tuesday night of 285 to 128, the House passed a bill (S 2120) that legislates an end to the exemption that very large producer-handlers have from milk marketing regulations. At issue was whether one of the largest dairy farms in the country could also bottle its milk but not pay Class I revenues into the Arizona-Las Vegas regional pool, thereby reducing the milk prices of all the other farms in that region.

The bill also closes another loophole allowing unregulated sales of milk from a Federal Milk Marketing Order region into a state order, an issue that was a major concern to farmers in the largest dairy state, California.

“Had this legislation failed to pass, it would have invited further legal challenges to USDA’s ability to enforce restrictions on the pooling exemptions that producer-handlers have enjoyed. It also could have encouraged the growth of larger fluid milk producer-distributors using the same loophole in other parts of the country,” said Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of NMPF.  

“This vote by Congress was a clear statement that no one is above having to play by the same rules that the majority must follow.”  Kozak acknowledged the effort put forth by the bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif).  His legislation is identical to a bill, sponsored by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz), that passed last year in the Senate.  They will now be sent to President Bush for his signature.

NMPF was part of a large coalition of dairy farm and processor organizations working in support of the MREA. They included the International Dairy Foods Association, Western United Dairymen, and many of NMPF’s member cooperatives.

NMPF press release