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Dairy groups spar over Bennet amendment

A proposed amendment to the farm bill draft would cost dairy farmers more than $400 million over five years in additional expenses, the National Milk Producers Federation said late today.

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., is expected to offer an amendment that would remove the dairy stabilization program from the bill, which also includes a program to protect farmers from high input costs compared with prices.

The stabilization program would discourage high levels of milk production when prices are low

A National Milk spokesman said he believes that the addition of the amendment would also raise the federal government's program cost.

But Jerry Slominski, a vice president of the International Dairy Foods Association, said that the stabilization program would hurt growing exports and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, “will tax dairy farmers by $495 million.”

“Instead of collecting money from dairy farmers in order to have the government buy the milk they produce, why not eliminate the stabilization program and use those very same dollars to help fund the margin protection plan?,” Slominski said. “That’s what the compromise Bennet plan does.”