Milk Producers Council
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From The MPC Newsletter
Friday, August 12, 201
1

Big Development on the Dairy Policy Reform Front
By Rob Vandenheuvel, General Manager

Over the past two weeks, we’ve published articles in this newsletter that took an in-depth look at the facts behind the draft legislation proposed by Congressman Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota) (information on Rep. Peterson’s draft legislation can be found at http://democrats.agriculture.house.gov/press/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=1118).  The bill would make fundamental reforms to our industry’s “safety net” programs.  Our articles looked at how the reforms in Rep. Peterson’s bill would work and how they would compare to what we have now. If you missed either of those articles, you can find them both on our website at www.milkproducers.org.

This week, news out of Washington, DC forces us to take a look at another equally-important part of the equation – the political aspect.  It was announced this week that Congressman Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) will be co-sponsoring the legislation along with Rep. Peterson (press release: http://futurefordairy.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/FFTF-Legislation-Simpson-Cosponsor-081111.pdf).  This is a huge development for a couple reasons.

First, this is the first comprehensive dairy policy reform bill in recent history to receive support from both a Republican and Democrat in Congress.  Why is this significant?  There are 435 Members in the House of Representatives and 100 Senators.  These 535 individuals – and only these 535 individuals – hold the power to actually vote on and approve reforms to our Federal dairy policies.  Of those Members of Congress, 286 are Republicans, 244 are Democrats and 2 are Independents (the numbers don’t quite add up to 535 because there are currently 3 vacant seats in the House of Representatives).  Add to those numbers the fact that Republicans control the U.S. House, Democrats control the U.S. Senate and the President is a Democrat.  With that kind of political maze to navigate through in Washington, DC, no legislation will be able to generate enough support to be approved by Congress and signed by the President unless it has support in both the Republican and Democrat camps.

Rep. Simpson’s announcement also carries regional significance.  The producer side of the dairy industry constantly finds ways to divide ourselves – differences in region and average farm size are the two most prominent.  Our nation’s processors – who appear to have a much easier time uniting behind a common policy position – rely on these differences among the U.S. dairy farmers to keep us from ever uniting behind a common proposal to reform our dairy policies.  There’s a reason we haven’t seen much rhetoric blasting Rep. Peterson’s draft legislation coming out of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) lately.  They seem to be content with sitting back and letting producer groups fight each other.  The announcement that Rep. Simpson of Idaho is now joining forces with Rep. Peterson of Minnesota is a huge step in the direction of setting aside our regional differences and uniting behind a common proposal that will improve the dairy safety net policies for all dairies throughout the country.  Thank you Congressman Mike Simpson!

 

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