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Pennsylvania and Ohio dairy farmers address post-"dairy cliff" reality

Jan. 24, 2013 | 0 comments

Pennsylvania and Ohio dairy farmers recently spoke out at a press conference held during the Pennsylvania Farm Show, about their hopes for the new Farm Bill, now that the so-called dairy cliff has been averted.

The dairy farmers, members of the Dairy Policy Action Coalition, were pleased with the extension of the 2008 Farm Bill as it did not include the proposed dairy title, which would have limited milk production through new government regulations.

Rob Barley, Star Rock Farms in Conestoga, said, "We are here today as dairy farmers to express our recommendations on much needed dairy policy reform in the next farm bill. We need to bridge the information gap between the farm and Capitol Hill. Language in the current Senate and House farm bills includes the "Dairy Market Stabilization Program."

Barley added this program makes supply management mandatory if you want to participate in a margin insurance program. We need to work together to develop policy that will allow US dairy farmers access to margin insurance; to be able to grow their business in a free market; and to be a reliable supplier to the growing global population.

Dan Brandt, a Lebanon County dairy farmer, said, "Supply management is bad policy because it creates an artificial market and sends the wrong message to our trading partners. Stand-alone margin insurance as proposed in the Goodlatte-Scott Amendment would be an effective safety net at our dairy."

Goodlatte Scott is a bipartisan proposal that would offer dairy farmers a new milk insurance package without the controversial milk supply management program.

Sponsored by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Representative David Scott (D-GA), the legislation was offered as an amendment and defeated by the House Agriculture Committee, but is expected to be brought up again as part of the Farm Bill discussion.

"I would not buy feed or fertilizer from a plant that had a policy of limiting me on the amount of product I could buy if price margins became tight," Brandt continued. "It is exactly the same with our global trading partners when they are considering where they will buy produce. If you can't count on someone supplying you they you go somewhere else."

Alan Kozak, a Millersburg, Ohio dairy farmer, said, "Supply management would not work on my farm. It would not allow my farm to grow. The folks in Washington need to know you can't turn milk on and off like the faucet at the kitchen sink. Today, milk is priced by global supply/demand and this can make for a volatile market."

Kozak continued, "As part of the global marketplace, my milk check is effected by how much rain Australia is getting for their pasture lands. We need a risk management tool like margin insurance as a safety net; but we need to let the market take care of supply and demand and keep the government out of it."

Dale Hoffman, a dairy farmer from Shinglehouse, Potter County, PA, concluded, "There seems to be a growing gap between the producers and the cooperatives that represent us as well as the policymakers in Washington. I agree with eliminating the Dairy Price Support Program and trading MILC in for a margin insurance product for a safety net. I do not agree with making supply management mandatory in order to access margin insurance. "

The Dairy Policy Action Coalition (DPAC) is a coalition of grassroots dairy producers actively participating, with a unified voice, on policies and issues affecting milk pricing.

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