The first meeting of the new Dairy Industry Advisory Committee started Tuesday at USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. and heard strong words from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
“At some point in time, this industry has got to get control of itself,” Vilsack said. “”We can’t continue to do this bandage approach where we buy a little bit or we increase the price a little bit or we come up with additional resources. In a time of difficulties relative to the deficit it’s just not that easy to raise the price support level, because we need an offset, which means some other aspect of agriculture could potentially suffer.”
Vilsack says he wants recommendations on what USDA should do by year’s end, whether it’s regulation or legislation or a combination of both, because the dairy market situation has become increasingly unstable. “The bandwidth, if you will, between good times and bad times, which used to be relatively stable, has over the course of the last several years become quite dramatic,” he said. “The dips are very significant, the increases are not as high and there’s not as much time for operators to recover and the result is it’s become harder and harder for operators to stay in business.”
The Dairy Industry Advisory Committee was chartered to review farm milk price volatility and dairy farmer profitability. The 17 member committee was appointed in January and represents all aspects of the industry. They will be meeting in Washington through Thursday.