During the final day of their annual meeting on Monday, delegates of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation voted to change their language regarding supply management. The change gives the WFBF board of directors and membership more flexibility in this area, providing an avenue to explore widespread supply management.
Although the initial resolution pushed for adoption of supply management, the passed resolution simply gives members the ability to “consider” it. According to Paul Zimmerman with WFBF, the delegates adopted language that provides the organization the opportunity to consider what kind of policy they want to have for the dairy industry going forward.
Supply management is a hot topic in the current dairy climate given low prices and a global glut of milk. Therefore, the passage of this resolution is not a surprise.
This past spring, Wisconsin Farmers Union (WFU) held more than a dozen meetings in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota to look at Canada’s supply management system. Nearly 500 farmers and dairy support industry folks attended the meetings in Wisconsin.
WFU is not saying implementation of such a system here is possible anytime soon. But it believes some type of supply control is necessary to break the boom and bust cycle of the U.S. dairy economy, says Kara O’Connor, WFU government relations director.
Given low milk prices and problems that came about after Grassland Dairy cut loose more than 100 dairy farms in the Midwest last year, farmers are saying we need to do something different, says Darin Von Ruden, WFU president and a farmer from Westby, Wis.
While most farmers agree that supply management is necessary and some cooperatives, including the Dairy Farmers of America, are considering supply management-type programs, most economists say a government-guided supply management program like the one in Canada is unlikely to happen in the U.S. any time soon.