Dairy interests speak up at farm bill session

Dairy advocates expressed their farm bill concerns to the House Ag Committee Chairman.

Lane Ruhland is the Government Relations Specialist for Venture Dairy Cooperative, which represents several large dairy farms.  She told Chairman Glenn GT Thompson her members are concerned about possible farm bill language that would impact milk contracts and pricing in the existing Federal Milk Marketing Orders. “This might be a very good change for our members and the right thing to do, but we just hope that there is the necessary vetting of any specific language that would make any amendments to our milk marketing orders.”

Kevin Krentz is Wisconsin’s Farm Bureau President and helped establish American Farm Bureau Federation’s dairy policy priorities. “Moving back to the higher-of versus the average-of in the price mover. That is extremely important, and it’s extremely important that we move quickly on that whether that’s through the farm bill process or the milk marketing order process. We talked about DMC (Dairy Margin Coverage) and the adjustments that need to be done there. It’s important that we update the production history versus what it was ten years ago as well.”

Krentz also says incorporating the Dairy Price Act to force the Food and Drug Administration to enforce standards of identity for milk is also a priority.

Julie Bowmar with Wisconsin Farmers Union urged the chairman to consider growth or supply management in the farm bill. “And instead of focusing so much on demand, to begin to look at mechanisms to control and manage growth. What plans do you have in the next farm bill to begin to tweak the supply of milk so that farmers can get a fair price?” Thompson says he prefers a market-based approach to regulating production. “We’ve always been very reluctant to get into supply management. It seems to go against dictating what people can grow and produce and provide. I know there’s some that are interested in that, but there’s an awful lot of folks that don’t want to be told by government what they’re allowed to do.”

Thompson, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, and Congressman Derrick Van Orden hosted the farm bill listening session Wednesday in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

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