The Flip Side
Latest budget proposal troubles dairy farmers.
The 2007 fiscal year
budget proposal released in February by the White House includes major
areas of concern for dairy farmers and agriculture in general, says the
dairy farmer leadership of Dairy Farmers of America Inc. (DFA).
“If the package was voted on today, dairy
farmers and farmers across commodity groups would be in serious
trouble,” says Tom Camerlo, DFA board chairman and a dairy farmer
from Florence, Colo. “The reality is the proposal has already met
significant public opposition from Congressional members. While it is far
from final, this proposal does, indeed, set the tone for farmers as we face
the drafting of the 2007 farm bill.”DFA says the proposed budget
unfairly targets agriculture for much greater cuts on the order of 5
percent as compared to agriculture’s much smaller share of overall
government expenditures of 1 percent.
Of major concern to DFA’s dairy farmer members
is the proposal to reduce the value of the price support program through
price support “tilt” adjustments. Further adjustments to the
price support tilt will reduce support to dairy farmers by significantly
more than the 5 percent cut called for in other commodity payments.
Also very troubling, says DFA, is the Bush administration’s proposed
3 cent per hundredweight “tax” on all milk production.
Camerlo explains that such a tax would come at a time
when dairy farmers are already burdened by high fuel, utility and feed
costs. “Dairy farmers, not the U.S. government, have voluntarily
financed and implemented the Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) supply
management program,” he says. “Since 2003, U.S. dairy farmers
have contributed more than $213 million to reduce milk supplies by nearly 3
billion pounds through herd retirement programs, a reduced
production-marketing program and enhanced exports.”
In addition, DFA argues, there are a number of
commodity support programs at stake which are of interest to dairy farmers.
Payments to farmers from all commodity programs including marketing
loans, direct and counter cyclical payment, and the Milk Income Loss
Compensation (MILC) program would face 5 percent cuts under this
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