The Wisconsin Dairy Business Association press conference we alerted you to yesterday has now been held. Thanks to Dana Pronschinske for the follow up information. Here’s a summary of what happened.
Citing reform of federal dairy policy as a top priority, the Wisconsin Dairy Business Association, representing dairy farm families, joined with industry experts and producers to urge Chairman Gil Gutknecht (R-MN) and members of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Dairy, Nutrition and Forestry to help fix what is badly broken with regard to U.S. dairy policies. The press conference was held just prior to the dairy field hearing in Winona, Minnesota on Wednesday, May 31, 2006.
In commending the Chairman and members of the subcommittee for convening the field hearing, John Vrieze, president of the Wisconsin Dairy Business Association (pictured) noted that “the complexity and importance of federal dairy policy warrants the creation of a new Farm Bill that will encourage innovation, efficiency, profitability and market access for all producers and processors.” Vrieze continued that, “our organization comprised of dairy farm families, cooperatives, agricultural lenders and manufacturers recognize we are at a critical moment in history whereby fundamental reform is essential for the long-term health of our industry.”
“U.S. federal dairy policy is far from perfect. In fact, I would say only a handful of dairy producers here in this room actually completely understand how our milk is priced,” Vrieze said. In his testimony he added that the current system is not only complex, but actually prevents producers and manufacturers from responding to true market demands and signals.
The Dairy Business Association today unveiled guiding principles that must be addressed by Congress to help reenergize the dairy industry and rural communities. They include:
• Eliminate the outdated and antiquated federal milk marketing order system and replace it with a new, simpler pricing structure;
• New and expanded risk management tools, such as forward contracting, must be expanded to all producers regardless if they ship milk to proprietary or cooperative owned processing plants.
• Phase out the existing dairy price support program and replace it with a new program to encourage domestic production of milk protein concentrates (MPCs) and sought after dairy products.
• Replace the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) with a counter-cyclical program that treats all operations, regardless of size and location, fairly. While we need a sensible program with a reasonable level of support, the MILC is too costly and we can’t expect that level of support long term.
• Move away from policy that pits one region of the country against another and work to bring California into a new national dairy program which allows all regions to prosper.