Farm bill 2014: National Milk says Dairy Security Act dead, looking at other options


SALEM, Ohio — The head of the National Milk Producers Federation said Jan. 16 that the organization is conceding its effort to get a Dairy Security Act passed in the new farm bill.

The DSA was approved by the House and Senate Ag Committees, and in the Senate farm bill of 2013, but it appears the act will go no further.

“Unfortunately, the (House) speaker’s threat that he would not allow a vote on a farm bill containing the market stabilization program (DSA) has effectively served to kill our proposal within the committee,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern, in a released statement.

Biggest issue

The NMPF announcement highlighted congressional action on the farm bill, which has been in conference mode since Oct. 30, with very few details shared with media.

The Dairy Security Act sought to provide farmers a form of margin protection when the margin between the cost of feed, and the price paid to farmers for milk — became too narrow. The act also would have helped control supply and demand and prevent supply from out-pacing demand too heavily.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was among the act’s biggest critics, calling the proposal “soviet-style.”

Another policy

With the setback, NMPF is trying to find a new way to ensure dairy producers have an effective safety net, and that they can avoid disasters like the dairy market collapse of 2009.

“We are now engaged in discussions with agriculture committee staff on an alternative approach to creating a dairy safety net that would contain inducements to help achieve a supply-demand balance and prevent catastrophic milk price collapses like we experienced in 2009,” Mulhern continued.

He said it is conceivable that an alternative dairy policy could be developed, relying upon adjustments to the DSA’s margin insurance payout structure and participant premium rates, among other options.

NMPF had worked on the DSA for four years. Mulhern argued the DSA provided an effective, voluntary safety net for all of the nation’s dairy farmers and said it protected taxpayers from the possibility of excessive costs.

Looking ahead

There had been rumors that the conferees were close to reaching an agreement last week (Jan. 18), but even at the earliest, it will still be a week or more before the full Congress could vote.

The House and Senate were both out for Martin Luther King Day and will not return until Jan. 27.

In other matters, Washington media continue to report that cuts to food stamps will likely be about $8-$9 billion.

This is double the $4 billion in cuts the Senate had approved in its 2013 farm bill, and is considerably less than the $39 billion in cuts that the House had approved.



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