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Dairy Security Act Introduced in House of Representatives

October 4, 2011

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.