The joint annual meeting of the National Milk Producers Federation, National Dairy Promotion and Research Board and United Dairy Industry Association wrapped up in San Diego Wednesday. Given the current Super Committee process and the effort of ag leaders to write a farm bill that fits in the budget parameters of that deficit reduction committee, NMPF's Chris Galen says the convention took place at a critical time for the industry.
"We think dairy is in a pretty good position right now although we're not going to count our chickens or anything like that before they're hatched," Galen said. "We've offered what we think is a very effective, both from a good safety net perspective for farmers, and also cost effective proposal so we're hoping that will be part of the finished product."
But Galen admits it's difficult to know where the farm bill development process currently stands. That's why NMPF is urging its members to continue contacting their members of Congress to ask for passage of the Dairy Security Act, whether that happens in the near future as part of the Super Committee process or sometime next year. Basically, Galen says NMPF wants to strengthen the safety net for dairy farmers that is now outdated.
"The systems we have now were created back 10 years ago or more in the last century when the price of milk and the cost of production was a lot lower," Galen said. "That's one of the key reasons why we need to have a 21st Century safety net. By protecting against this compression of margins it's not going to guarantee a profit, but it does provide a better level of protection against worst case scenarios like what we saw in 2009, much better than the protections we have now."
NMPF's initiative to reform U.S. dairy policy has been known as Foundation for the Future. That evolved into the Dairy Security Act introduced by Congressman Collin Peterson, D-Minn.