News for Dairy Co-Ops - October 4, 2011

Volume 69. No. 10

Newsletter Stories

Dairy Security Act Introduced in House of Representatives

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Kozak-Rooney-House-Subcommittee-Hearing-090811.JPGThe National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) is working to build support for H.R. 3062, the Dairy Security Act of 2011, which was formally introduced in the House of Representatives last month. The bill closely follows the concepts of NMPF’s Foundation for the Future proposal to reform and improve federal dairy policy, but contains several improvements compared to the original concept, changes that were endorsed last month by NMPF.

These changes include making voluntary the Dairy Market Stabilization Program (DMSP), which will help reduce milk output during times of low margins. While farmers will not be required to participate in efforts to stabilize markets, if they wish to enroll in the subsidized margin insurance program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, they will automatically be enrolled in the DMSP so that they are promptly alerted when additional production may affect their overall margins.

The new legislation is also an improvement over the earlier version because it extends the Basic level of margin insurance coverage to 80 percent of a producer’s production history, up from 75 percent as initially proposed. The Supplemental margin coverage option is also improved, as it will now allow producers to purchase insurance for growth in their milk production history.

Other changes to the final version of the legislation include a refined provision in the Dairy Market Stabilization Program to ensure that it does not activate during times when signals for farmers to reduce production may impinge on the ability of the U.S. to export dairy products. Also, all of the money collected by USDA through the DMSP will go to dairy product purchases.

Lastly, the Dairy Security Act of 2011 simplifies the Federal Milk Marketing Order pricing system through a formal hearing process conducted by USDA. The proposal directs changes in the way milk used to manufacture cheese (Class III) is priced, from a complicated end-product formula, to a more market-oriented competitive pricing system.

The Congressional Budget Office has scored the legislative draft to assess its budget impact, and finds that the DSA will reduce federal spending by $167 million during the next five years, and $131 million during the next ten. That level of savings “represents one of the major benefits of this approach, since it will not only provide farmers better security, but also save the government money when the main topic of conversation in Washington is on reducing the deficit,” said Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of NMPF.

In the photo: Members of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Dairy expressed their misgivings with current dairy policies during a hearing in September. The Subcommittee is chaired by Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL), seen at right, discussing policy options with NMPF President Jerry Kozak.

E-Verify Legislation Approved by House Judiciary Committee

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E-Verify Legislation Approved by House Judiciary Committee

Last month, the House Judiciary committee approved the controversial E-Verify bill. Adopted along a party line vote, 22-13, Committee Chairman Lamar Smith’s bill would require all U.S. employers to use E-Verify, an online worker verification system that matches job applications with data from the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

Under the bill, agriculture employers would be given 36 months from the date of enactment to comply with its provisions. During the mark up of the bill, Representative Dan Lungren unsuccessfully offered an agriculture-specific amendment that would have issued 10 month visas for agriculture workers. As it stands, Smith still is considering an agriculture-specific workforce act, H.R. 2847, but has yet to move it out of Committee. While the full House of Representatives may soon vote on the E-Verify legislation, the bill is not expected to be considered by the Senate.

NMPF continues to reinforce that it will not support enforcement-only legislation. Without a viable answer for the future workforce of the agriculture industry, NMPF cannot endorse any legislation that will increase the burden of America’s farmers.

Toward that end, in written testimony provided today to the Senate Judiciary Committee, NMPF said that current labor and immigration policies put the U.S. dairy farm sector at a disadvantage, and that a change in laws is necessary in order to address the realities of dairy production in America.

In testimony presented to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, which held a hearing on the agricultural labor crisis, NMPF wrote that there remains a persistent shortage of native-born workers interested in employment on dairy farms, which is why farmers cannot find enough American workers to milk cows and perform other critical job functions on dairies.

The full news release on the Senate hearing is available on the NMPF website.

Food Dialogues Help in Effort to Address Concerns about Food Production

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Food Dialogues Help in Effort to Address Concerns about Food Production

Last month, America’s farmers and ranchers – in an effort to lead a conversation and answer those questions – kicked off The Food Dialogues, the launch of a new effort to bring together different viewpoints on farming and ranching and the future of food. The effort was sponsored by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, of which NMPF is a member.

Four panels across the country, including Washington, D.C.; New York City; Fair Oaks, Indiana; and Davis, California, featured leaders and voices across the food spectrum, addressing American’s stated concerns about how their food is grown and raised.

While the discussion started on Sept. 22, it’s just the beginning a long-term effort and will continue at the website www.fooddialogues.com. Those who want to see the entire discussion or share comments can go there to join the conversation.

House Passes Bills to Protect Children’s’ Right to Work on Farms

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House Passes Bills to Protect Children’s’ Right to Work on Farms

NMPF was heartened by the vote in the House of Representatives late last month to pass the Preserving America's Family Farms Act. This legislation, sponsored by Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA), and cosponsored by more than 90 other members, prohibits the Secretary of Labor from finalizing or enforcing regulations in the future that would change the definition of the 'parental exemption,’ change the student learner exemption, and significantly redefine what practices would be acceptable for youth under the age of 16 in which to participate.

Even though the Department of Labor earlier this year withdrew its contentious proposed rule restricting the work that children could do on farms, NMPF still remains concerned that the issue could surface again at some point in the future.

“Although the Obama Administration has said it won’t go down this path again, NMPF wants to be certain that subsequent administrations don’t attempt something similar, which is why this bill was needed,” said Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of NMPF. “We will continue to encourage the Labor Department to work with rural stakeholders to develop education programs to reduce accidents to young workers and promote safer agricultural working practices."

U.S. Dairy Industry Urges Passage of Trade Agreements by Congress

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U.S. Dairy Industry Urges Passage of Trade Agreements by Congress

NMPF and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) applauded the submission to Congress by President Obama of the legislation to implement the three pending free trade agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Panama and Colombia. The dairy industry was also supportive of the bipartisan compromise on the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) legislation.

These FTAs have the potential to expand U.S. exports and create thousands of export-supporting jobs in the U.S. dairy industry, in particular. NMPF and USDEC “thank members of Congress for their diligent work in supporting the drafting of this legislation,” said Jerry Kozak, president and CEO of NMPF.

The U.S. dairy sector will see significant gains from each of the agreements, but particularly from the agreement with South Korea. “We are pleased that achieving these benefits is finally within sight,” said Kozak. “These agreements will not only expand export sales for such products as cheese, whey, skim milk powder, and other dairy products, they will also prevent our competitors from taking market shares that we currently have in those countries.”

Tom Suber, president of USDEC, agreed, pointing out that the industry estimates that as many as 10,000 additional U.S. jobs, both on and off the farm could be created by the Korea agreement alone. “The growth in exports of dairy products from these agreements will not only help bolster milk prices for America’s dairy farms, it will also expand jobs in the dairy processing and transportation sectors,” he said. “The FTAs represent a big win-win for all elements of the U.S. dairy industry.”

The dairy organizations noted that the export benefit from the Korea FTA to the U.S. dairy industry in the first few years after implementation will be approximately $380 million per year, on average, and the gains from the Colombia and Panama FTAs will add another $50 million annually. NMPF and USDEC highlighted the growing importance of export sales to dairy producers’ bottom lines and the need to continue to open and develop new markets regardless of their size. In international trade, “unless we continue to move forward, we risk falling behind our competitors,” Suber said.

“We urge members of Congress to approve the implementing bills for all three FTAs, and support the economy of thousands of America’s dairy farmers,” said Kozak. “Our producers are pleased that after four years, a breakthrough has been achieved, and Congress will finally have an opportunity to act on the FTAs. Now, we just need a “yes” vote.”

Upcoming Forum to Address Antibiotic Use in Food Animals

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Upcoming Forum to Address Antibiotic Use in Food Animals

At the end of October, the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) will host a national forum regarding the use of antibiotic usage in food animals. The forum will be held October 26 - 27 at the Hotel Intercontinental Chicago O'Hare in Rosemont, IL.

The use of antibiotics in the production of food animals elicits polarizing opinions across the media today as consumers become more aware and interested in the way their food is produced. While livestock producers have realized that significant animal illness can be avoided by the use of antibiotics, consumers are being told that any use of antibiotics leads to a lower effectiveness of antibiotics in humans.

Although there have been several debates and discussions on this issue, NIAA's national forum will feature experts in animal agriculture, researchers in the area of livestock health, and experts in human health who will develop a dialogue with the common purpose of sharing fact-based information about the use of antibiotics in the sustainable production of food.

Forum registration is available online. For questions, contact Katie Ambrose at 719-538-8843, ext. 14.

CEO’S CORNER


Jim Mulhern
NMPF President & CEO
Associate Member Focus: 

Central States Testing (CST), a new NMPF associate member, was formed in 2004 to conduct research and to provide regional testing facilities for the beef and dairy industries, concentrating only on BVDV-PI testing. They conducted research to validate the use of Idexx Antigen Capture ELISA for identification of persistent infection as compared to virus isolation, PCR, and IHC testing methods.

CST’s lab opened in 2005 in response to the research conducted by their in-house veterinarians. CST’s goal is to provide their clients with the most accurate test results in the timeliest manner using the best technology and testing procedures. By achieving these goals, CST can help the producer achieve several very desirable goals: improved herd health, improved performance, and possibly a distinct marketing advantage by being able to market PI-free feeder cattle, breeding stock, or dairy heifers.

To learn more about CST, please visit their website at www.cstbvd.com. CST’s contact is Dale Butcher, who can be reached at 620-675-8640.