Compact’s future rests on the Hill

WASHINGTON – As new dairy compact legislation is introduced on Capitol Hill, Ohio still has no enabling legislation permitting its producers to join the Northeast Interstate Dairy Compact.

Reps. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark., and Bob Etheridge, D-N.C., introduced the Dairy Consumers and Producers Protection Act, which would reauthorize and extend the Northeast Dairy Compact from its current six states – Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont – to 11, including Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and New York.

The bill would also create a Southern Dairy Compact for 13 states – West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia – that have passed enabling legislation.

If the bill does not pass, the compact will expire Sept. 30.

Lisa Tharp, Ohio State Grange legislative director, says the organization supports a dairy compact and believes Ohio legislators are ready to introduce enabling legislation.

“My contacts say they are waiting to see the result of the federal vote, but I have encouraged them to introduce legislation before the session ends in June,” said Tharp. “Ohio dairy farmers would have received between $9,000 and $10,000 last year in dairy compact payments. The compact is essential for survival for Ohio’s dairy producers.”

Over the last decade, the total number of Ohio dairy farms decreased by more than 2,400 or 33 percent of its dairy farms, according to the Ohio State Grange.

At least 25 states have passed legislation to join a compact if passed on the federal level.

The International Dairy Foods Association, an organization representing U.S. dairy processors and manufacturing industries, does not support dairy compacts and says the push for them is based on politics and not facts.

Linwood Tipton, president and CEO of IDFA, says the compact will unfairly tax the consumer.

“We need a national dairy policy that provides a safety net for farmers without putting a tax on consumers,” said Tipton.

The Northeast Dairy Compact Commission Web site is www.dairycompact.org, and IDFA is at www.idfa.org.

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