House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., says the dairy safety net did not work in 2009 and it won't work if similar events occur now. He says that current dairy programs are not keeping pace with the challenges facing today's industry. In fact, the current levels of support will actually decrease in September of next year. Peterson is writing in support of his discussion draft of proposed dairy reforms that he believes it will offer better protection, create stability and inspire growth in the dairy sector.
Peterson says releasing a discussion draft, rather than legislation, gives the dairy industry the opportunity to weigh in and perhaps offer other suggestions. The Congressman says that working together he believes a safety net can be created that will provide the support all sectors of the industry need while also being mindful of the current budget situation.
"I've appreciated the feedback from the dairy industry thus far and am hopeful that producers and processors can come together in a constructive way in the best interest of our dairy industry," Peterson said.
Most of the reforms in Peterson's draft aren't controversial. But not everyone is happy with a program that would set limits on milk production in an effort to prevent oversupply and price fluctuations. Farmers won't get paid if they produce extra milk.
"It's effective at helping stabilize prices, but different groups and regions have different views," said Chuck Nicholson, an associate professor of agriculture policy at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Peterson plans to introduce bipartisan, cost-effective legislation in the coming weeks.