Leadership Support

IDFA commends pro-growth focus of 2007 budget.
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) commended President Bush last month for his pro-growth budget that emphasizes targeted spending to help meet the most pressing challenges facing America’s agricultural sector and the economy as a whole. “We applaud the president’s leadership in calling for more restrained spending on dairy subsidy programs while managing for better results, investing in efforts to safeguard America’s food supply and providing full funding for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, which serves the nutritional requirements of our neediest citizens,” says Chip Kunde, IDFA senior vice president for legislative affairs and economic policy.
As outlined in the president’s 2007 budget proposal, agricultural spending would be focused on protecting the food supply, preventing bioterrorism, strengthening conservation and maintaining feeding programs while saving $8.9 billion over 10 years. Payments made through commodity programs would be reduced by 5 percent, including payments under the recently renewed Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program. The proposal also improves budgetary restraint in the operation of the Dairy Price Support Program (DPSP) and directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to purchase surplus cheese, butter and powder only when reported prices fall below the support rate.
“Better fiscal management of the DPSP was proposed in the president’s FY 2006 budget, but not enacted by Congress. The resurrection of the MILC program earlier this year makes the efficient operation of the DPSP even more critical to the health of the dairy sector,” Kunde says.
Both USDA’s 2004 dairy report and the Office of Management and Budget’s recent program assessment agree that the MILC program and DPSP are countervailing programs. The president’s budget includes a small assessment on dairy producers to help pay for the administration of the multiple dairy subsidy programs. The proposal also calls for a sugar marketing assessment to be paid by sugar processors, since U.S. sugar growers do not receive direct subsidies but rely on trade quota protections.
“The president’s budget fine-tunes dairy programs by simply making the current dairy safety net scheme more fiscally responsible,” Kunde says.  
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Product and promotion news
The Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) unveiled the details of one of its largest teen programs ever, “Body by Milk,” during a special session at the International Dairy Foods Association’s (IDFA) SmartMarketing conference this month in Las Vegas. Body by Milk is a back-to-school marketing program that will include in-school merchandising, a contest to find the school with the healthiest students, advertising in teen publications, retail point-of-sale materials and a feature incentive program. The program will encourage teens to use milk UPC codes as currency at an online auction where they can purchase items such as sportswear, electronics and jeans. “Body by Milk is shaping up to be one of our best ever programs for teens,” says Julie Buric, IDFA’s senior director of promotions. “We’re very excited that we’ll be able to reach teens online, at schools, through mass media as well as at retailers through their moms.” For more information about the Body by Milk program, visit www.milkpep.org. 
Plymouth, Wis.-based Sargento Foods Inc., maker of the official cheese of the Green Bay Packers, rang in the new year by donating $50,000 through its Touchdowns for Charity program. The program is a partnership between Sargento and the Hunger Task Force designed to help feed Wisconsin families in need. Since its inception, the company has contributed $167,000 to the Hunger Task Force. Through Touchdowns for Charity, Sargento donates $1,000 to the task force for every Green Bay Packers touchdown scored during the season. In the  program’s third year, the company exceeded its commitment with its $50,000 donation for the 2005-06 football season. “Sargento is committed to the Wisconsin community,” says Sargento chairman Lou Gentine. “We’re proud to do our part in helping to feed the thousands of people in Wisconsin who rely on the Hunger Task Force for support.”
The Chairman’s Award, the most prestigious award presented at the annual National Milk Producers Federation’s (NMPF) Cheese Contest, was presented to Davenport, Iowa-based Swiss Valley Farms for its Regular Swiss. The winning cheese was produced at the company’s Luana, Iowa, plant and received a score of 99.85 out of 100 possible points. Also in the Swiss cheese category, Swiss Valley Farms was awarded a second-place accolade with its Platteville, Wis., Regular Swiss and third-place honors for its Baby Swiss, also produced at the company’s Luana plant. Other awards won by Swiss Valley Farms in the NMPF contest were first place in Open Class for its Cream Cheese made in Luana, and first place in the Reduced Fat category for its Neufchatel. This year, 11 NMPF member cooperatives took part in the Annual NMPF Cheese Contest in San Francisco. The participating cooperatives submitted 105 samples, totaling 2,420 pounds of cheese.
Uncle Matt’s Organic Inc., Clermont, Fla., has introduced a new gourmet look for its organic orange juice line with a unique 59-ounce carafe-style bottle. Made from clear PET #1 plastic, the new bottle offers an upscale, trendy look while guaranteeing great juice quality and taste. “We feel this packaging is more in line with the quality of our products,” says Matt McLean, president of Uncle Matt’s Organic. “We offer premium organic orange juice with that fresh squeezed taste reminiscent of a Florida roadside stand. This is OJ the way it’s meant to be.” Using a unique family recipe developed more than four generations ago, Uncle Matt’s Organic Orange Juice is a delicious blend of organic Hamlin and Valencia oranges. Each piece of fruit is “soft squeezed” using a premium juice extractor that simultaneously separates the juice from the peel during pressing thus reducing the potential for any bitterness from the peel. The juice is all natural with no added flavors, peel oil, additives or preservatives.
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