The National Milk Producers Federation Wednesday made its final plea for a Dairy Security Act as legislators begin conferencing the 2013 Farm Bill in Washington, D.C.
NMPF has long lobbied for a DSA, which is included in the Senate version of the bill, but not the House version. The DSA includes margin insurance and a program that uses milk payments to communicate market conditions to farmers. Opponents of the plan call the stabilization element "supply management," noting that producers must limit production if certain market conditions arise to keep milk prices steady.
Opponents, like the International Dairy Foods Association, which largely represents milk processors, say the DSA would result in higher milk prices for the consumer, be confusing to operate, and could hurt global competition.
"Milk prices would significantly increase and jobs will be lost if the Senate prevails over the House on this issue," IDFA's Senior Vce President for Legislative Affairs and Economic Policy Jerry Slominski said, noting that the stabilization component could raise milk prices and result in a "hidden tax" on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients.
"The incorrectly named stabilization program will also put the brakes on dairy export growth at a cost of thousands of new jobs," Slominski added.
However, the NMPF, in a last effort to get legislators behind the DSA, said it is the best option to "provide farmers real stability" and "not be a costumed disguise that masks the serious problems that will result if the House dairy program were enacted."
NMPF's Chief Operating Officer Jim Mulhern also noted in a press statement that the Senate's DSA provides help to farmers when they need it most, and limits taxpayers' exposure.
"It's an important safety net to farmers when they need it, and not an underfunded liability to the government when the program is in operation," Mulhern said. "In contrast, the proposal that finally emerged from the House is a bad trick: it would be fiscally irresponsible and ineffective."
The group said because the House provision lacks the Senate's market stabilization program, it would cause farmers to suffer prolonged periods of poor margins, while taxpayers subsidize dairy processors through artificially-low milk prices.
Clear supporters of the plan surfaced in Wednesday's opening statements in the farm bill conference, including Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
Read more about the Dairy Security Act:
Report Shows Positive Impacts of Dairy Security Act
Dairy Groups Disagree Over 2012 Farm Bill
Farm Bill Remains A Priority For Milk Producers
Group Touts Dairy Security Act for Next Farm Bill