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Dairy groups spar over CRS report

The National Milk Producers Federation, which represents dairy farmers and co-ops, and the International Dairy Foods Association, which represents processors, are sparring over how to interpret a Congressional Research Service report on the proposed dairy title of the farm bill.

National Milk said in a news release that the CRS report “points out the advantages of the margin insurance and market stabilization-based approach to reforming dairy policy.”

NMPF President and CEO Jerry Kozak said that the CRS report “should greatly clarify and simplify the decision-making process on Capitol Hill. It dispels the scare-mongering distortions offered by opponents of the Dairy Security Act, highlights the benefits of a new, voluntary approach to providing a safety net to farmers, and reinforces the need to include the Dairy Security Act in a new farm bill.”

“Although the DMSP [the Dairy Market Stabilization Program] is referred to as a supply management program, it is perhaps more accurately described as a production disincentive program since there are no production limits or quotas, and the dairy operator may continue to run his operation at any production level,” Kozak said.

IDFA said that National Milk officials have been distorting the CRS report in their meetings with congressional staff.

“You can read that report until the proverbial cows come home and you will not find anywhere that it concludes that the Dairy Security Act is the best approach for dairy farmers, as was falsely claimed by the National Milk Producers Federation,” said Jerry Slominski, IDFA senior vice president of legislative and economic affairs. “The CRS is a well-respected and bipartisan service that doesn’t take sides on issues like this.”

The CRS report provides details of how margin insurance payments would be determined but also calculates an example of how the controversial DMSP would have resulted in reduced income of $7,280 as a “production disincentive” for a typical dairy farmer if the program had been in effect earlier this year," Slominski said.

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., is considered the primary author of the Dairy Security Act. IDFA prefers an alternative approach, authored by Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and David Scott, D-Ga., that would provide similar margin insurance coverage without the controversial plan to periodically limit milk production.