On Tuesday, President George Bush signed into law the Milk Regulatory Equity Act (S. 2120), effectively closing a loophole that had allowed regulatory inequities between federal and state milk marketing orders in Arizona, California and Nevada.

"We commend the President for signing this piece of legislation," said Chip Kunde, senior vice president of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). "His action today brings this long-fought battle to a close."

IDFA was part of a national coalition of producer and processor groups that supported the measure, including the National Milk Producers Federation, the Dairy Institute of California, Western United Dairymen and the Dairy Farmers of America.

The new law will make it illegal for plants in southwestern states to sell milk into a state milk marketing area from a federally regulated milk marketing area without complying with either state or federal pricing regulations. Specifically, milk processors in Arizona, including producer-handlers that sell more than three million pounds of fluid milk per month, will be required to comply with federal regulations. The legislation also clarifies that plants in Nevada selling into a federal milk marketing order now must abide by federal pricing regulations.