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Cooperative Members, Dairy Experts Testify in Agriculture Subcommittee’s First Hearing

May 13, 2019

In its first hearing of the 116th Congress the House Agriculture Committee’s subcommittee on livestock and foreign agriculture focused on dairy’s improved safety net and the need for expanded exports, with farmers from NMPF cooperatives and industry leaders bringing national attention to industry concerns.

The hearing, called by Subcommittee Chairman Jim Costa (D-CA), spotlighted the low prices and trade concerns the sector faces while discussing the opportunities offered for producers through the new Dairy Margin Coverage program, calling solutions to dairy’s struggles one of the subcommittee’s highest priorities.

Testimony included:

  • Minnesota dairy farmer Sadie Frericks, a member of Land O’Lakes, spoke of the importance of the new Dairy Margin Coverage program as a risk management tool as her family weathers economic challenges;
  • California Dairies, Inc. President and CEO Andrei Mikhalevsky provided an overview of dairy’s trade issues, a rising concern as exports are crucial to increasing dairy demand;
  • Pennsylvania dairy farmer Dave Smith, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association, discussed additional challenges including the importance of milk consumption in schools and the need to combat mislabeled fake milks in the marketplace;
  • New York dairy farmer Michael McMahon gave voice to the dairy industry’s unique workforce challenges, including the lack of a viable guest worker program that covers year-round workers;
  • and Dr. Scott Brown, Director of Strategic Partnerships for the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, provided economic insight.

NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern thanked the participating farmers and industry leaders for bringing their crucial dairy perspectives to a national level and applauded the subcommittee for putting dairy first on its 2019 agenda, noting that the sector’s “challenges reverberate through the U.S. economy.” Mulhern also thanked lawmakers including Costa, subcommittee ranking member Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC), Agriculture Committee Chairman Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), and Congressman GT Thompson (R-PA) for their helpful opening and closing statements at the hearing.