News for Dairy Co-ops
With Congress back from its August recess, its members will face a slew of hot-button issues, including reviewing the Iran nuclear deal and appropriating money to stave off another government shutdown by Sept. 30. While numerous issues are near the top of Congress’ to-do list, NMPF will continue pushing on several bills that are important to milk producers. Here is what NMPF will be working to advance during the fall session:
On Sept. 30, federal authorization for several child nutrition programs, such as the School Lunch Program, runs out. NMPF wants Congress to consider the bipartisan School Milk Nutrition Act of 2015 as part of the child nutrition reauthorization process. This bill attacks declining milk consumption with a pilot program increasing the variety and availability of milk in schools. In particular, NMPF wants USDA to allow a return of low-fat flavored milk in school meals, consistent with U.S. dietary guidelines.
Earlier this year, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack signaled his acceptance of that idea. “I think if adding that option [low-fat flavored milk] would encourage more kids to drink more milk, we should do that,” he said at a committee hearing in June.
Next, building on months of work with House members to pass the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, NMPF will continue its focus on passing a similar version through the Senate. The House bill creates a uniform, science-based, voluntary labeling standard for foods made with GMO ingredients. The bill passed the House on July 23rd by a margin of 275-150.
If approved by the Senate and signed into law, the legislation would impose one consistent, voluntary labeling system and prevent individual states from passing their own individual labeling laws, as Vermont did last year.
“This measure gives consumers the information they want while reaffirming federal authority over food labeling and preventing the development of dozens of different state food labeling laws,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern.
As the 2016 presidential election campaign season gets underway, NMPF considers immigration reform to be of vital concern – especially considering its effects on the dairy sector. With so many farms employing immigrant workers, NMPF is concerned about the lack of progress on the issue, but is looking for opportunities to advance our legislative objectives.
NMPF also supports passage of the Safe, Flexible, and Efficient Trucking Act of 2015, which will be introduced in the House once Congress is back in session. The legislation would give states the option to allow vehicles with at least six axles to carry 91,000 pounds through the interstate highway system. NMPF backs this legislation because it would allow vehicles to carry more milk across the country. This change would also reduce fuel costs and pollution by decreasing the number of vehicles needed to transport milk.
Finally, NMPF supports the renewal of Section 179 tax credits, which allows farmers to write off capital expenses in the year they are made, rather than depreciate them over time. If a tax package is up for reauthorization, NMPF pledges to protect the deductions that have saved farmers thousands of dollars, and encourages Congress to restore the maximum amount of expensing to $500,000, as was previously set in 2014. In the same tax package, NMPF is seeking to add language to include nutrient recovery technology in the list of items eligible for the 30% renewable investment tax credit.
NMPF will continue to work with legislators on other key issues this session. Among them are the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the Waters of the U.S. Act, and a meat Country of Origin Labeling bill.
Despite little indication when intensive negotiations on the Pacific Rim trade deal will resume, NMPF remains optimistic the talks can be concluded successfully in a way that addresses the priorities of the U.S. dairy industry.
Meeting in Hawaii in July, trade ministers for the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership nations made some progress but failed to reach agreement on several important issues, including access to dairy markets.
Key to the impasse on dairy was Canada’s refusal to significantly open its highly protected markets, the limited access offered by Japan, and New Zealand’s desire that the United States compensate it in dairy access to the U.S. market given the limited offers from Japan and Canada.
“Despite the stalemate on dairy, we are optimistic negotiators can bring the TPP talks to a successful conclusion soon, and we look forward to the resumption of intensive discussions,” said NMPF President and CEO Mulhern.
“At the same time,” Mulhern said, “we are continuing to make clear that we will not support a package that would make U.S. dairy farmers a net loser in this agreement. We are prepared to do our part, but others need to do theirs, too. The burden of this agreement cannot be carried by the United States.”
Mulhern urged dairy producers to keep telling their House and Senate members they support a balanced Pacific trade pact that benefits the U.S. dairy industry. U.S. producers now export the equivalent of one-seventh of their milk production, and both Canada and Japan are viewed as key future markets U.S. dairy products.
On the last day of August, NMPF urged the Obama Administration to hold off on the national enforcement of the new Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) regulation. This comes in response to a court decision suspending the regulation in some states, but not others.
On August 27th, the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota halted implementation of the water regulation, granting a temporary injunction in favor of 13 states that brought suit in North Dakota against the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. The EPA said after the court ruling that it would not implement the rule in the 13 states involved: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Concerned about the potential for confusion and inconsistent application of the regulation following the court’s ruling, NMPF sent a letter to the EPA and Army Corps asking the government to suspend enforcement of the WOTUS nationwide.
“We ask that EPA and the Corp of Engineers use their enforcement discretion and cease application of the recent WOTUS rule in all 50 states, until such time as it can be evenly applied in every state,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern.
NMPF’s letter continues: “Clean water is central to healthy ecosystems, secure water supplies for human and animal consumption, and to the production of milk and other dairy products. We are committed to working with the EPA and COE to find effective ways to achieve these important goals.”
There’s less than a month left for dairy farmers to sign up at their local Farm Service Agency office for 2016 coverage under the dairy Margin Protection Program. The second enrollment period under the new federal dairy safety net program closes September 30th.
To help farmers make decisions, NMPF has updated tools at www.FutureforDairy.com, a website serving as a clearinghouse for MPP information. Included are a brochure explaining the program and its importance to dairy farmers and a calculator allowing farmers to estimate future margins based on their forecasts of feed and milk prices.
MPP helps protect against the kind of catastrophic losses that many farmers experienced in 2009 and again in 2012. It allows farmers to insure the difference between milk prices and feed costs. Producers insure their operations on a sliding scale, deciding both how much of their production to cover and the level of margin to protect.
Through the first six months of 2015, the program has issued payments in each of the three bi-monthly coverage windows for those who elected the maximum $8 margin coverage.
Cooperatives Working Together member cooperatives, operating in a very competitive world market, won 12 contracts to sell 3.673 million pounds of dairy products to customers in five countries. The 2.2 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 661,387 pounds of butter, and 828,938 pounds of whole milk powder will be shipped from August 2015 through January 2016.
These contracts bring the year-to-date totals through August to 45.3 million pounds of cheese, 28.063 million pounds of butter, and 34.106 million pounds of whole milk powder. In total, CWT-assisted transactions will move the equivalent of 1.299 billion pounds of milk on a milkfat basis to customers in 33 countries on five continents. These totals are adjusted for contract cancellations.
Developed by NMPF, CWT is a voluntary export assistance program supported by dairy farmers producing 70 percent of the nation’s milk. By helping to move U.S. dairy products into world markets, CWT helps keep maintain and grow U.S dairy farmers share of these expanding markets which, in turn, keeps dairy farmer milk prices at reasonable levels.
Madelyn Berner, a Syracuse University graduate with five years of journalism experience, has joined the NMPF communications team. She will work with Senior Vice President Chris Galen on growing the Federation’s presence on social media and the web – including an eventual revamp of the NMPF website.
A native of Arlington, Va., Berner has Iowa roots and is a long-time milk drinker. She replaces Sarah Olson, who left NMPF after eight years.
Berner has worked for several Washington-area news organizations – including the Washington bureau of Agence France-Presse – since graduating from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse in 2014. At the French news agency, Berner worked on the multimedia desk editing news videos. She also served as a staff writer for both Washingtonian Magazine and The Chronicle of Higher Education.
At Syracuse, Berner was managing editor of the campus newspaper, The Daily Orange. Between academic years, she held internships at Northern Virginia Magazine and DC Magazine.
In less than two months, hundreds of dairy industry leaders will converge in Orlando, Florida, for the joint annual meeting between the National Dairy Board (NDB), the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), and the United Dairy Industry Association (UDIA). “A Legacy of Leadership” will take place from October 26-28 at the Orlando World Center Marriott.
Farmers and other industry leaders will discuss the major trends and issues affecting today’s dairy industry, and how those trends will affect its future. The meeting will feature a special presentation from market expert Jeff Fromm on how best to reach millennial consumers, who are now controlling a significant share of the retail food dollar. The meeting will also feature a panel discussion on animal care, and its significant across the food value chain.
With the days ticking away, it’s important to both register for the event and make hotel reservations. This year’s event features a new online registration site, Eventbrite, which is compatible with mobile phones. Please go to http://annualmeeting.dairy.org and register by Wednesday, October 7, 2015.
Indian River Transport Company, headquartered in Winter Haven, Florida, is a food-grade tank carrier primarily transporting dairy products, fruit juices, and wine. With approximately 500 tractors and 700 trailers, it is one of the nation’s largest food-grade carriers.
Indian River Transport was founded in 1974 and sold to United Transport, part of a British conglomerate, in 1982. Eleven years later, it was reacquired by the son of its founder, Jack Harned. Under the leadership of John Harned, Indian River Transport has continued to grow.
Indian River Transport is committed to providing customer satisfaction, developing long-term relationships, and maintaining a culture based on integrity and mutual respect. John Harned is the company’s contact. To learn more, visit the company website.
|Editor: Christopher Galen (703) 243-6111 E-mail: CGalen@nmpf.org|