If the U.S. Free Trade Agreement with Central America and Dominican Republic (CAFTA-DR) ends up road-blocked in Congress, it will likely be over the always-sensitive issue of sugar imports. At a meeting of the House Ways and Means Committee, members from sugar-growing districts expressed concerns about the sugar provisions of the treaty, echoing comments from their counterparts on the Senate Finance Committee. The treaty does in fact provide new access to U.S. markets for foreign sugar growers, but the U.S. Trade Representative's Office says those new imports would not negatively impact the current U.S. sugar program. Top White House and Agriculture Department officials have held meetings on how to counter U.S. sugar growers' objections and push the agreement through Congress. The treaty would lower or remove trade barriers between the United States and a number of Caribbean nations, many of which are significant sugar producers.
Three dairy state Democrats in the Senate have introduced legislation that would prohibit products that contain dry ultra-filtered milk products, milk protein concentrate or casein from being labeled as domestic natural cheese. The bill, S. 827, is co-sponsored by Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY). Feingold has introduced similar legislation in every session, only to have it die in committee. This year he has enlisted the support of two Senate heavyweights in hopes of advancing the issue. The "Quality Cheese Act," was referred to the Senate Agriculture Committee where it awaits action.
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has appointed four incumbents and two new members to the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board, also known as the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) Board, which directs the National Milk Mustache "got milk?" Campaign.
Reappointed to serve second terms were Jay Jaskiewicz, dir., dairy manufacturing, Publix Super Markets, Lakeland, Fla.; Gary Aggus, president and general mgr., Hiland Dairy, Springfield, Mo.; Joseph Cervantes, president and COO, Crowley Foods, LLC, Binghamton, N.Y.; and Jerry Tidwell, senior v.p., Safeway, Inc., Walnut Creek, Calif. Appointed to first terms were Brian Haugh, president and COO, National Dairy Holdings, Borden Milk Products, Dallas, and Michael Krueger, senior v.p. and general mgr., Shamrock Foods, Phoenix. These three-year appointments take effect on July 1; appointees will be seated at MilkPEP's summer board meeting July 22-23.