Editor's note: The following is a statement from The Dairy Business Association and the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association.
The Dairy Business Association (DBA) and the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) greatly appreciate Representative Reid Ribble's support of Wisconsin's dairy industry through his vote in favor of the Goodlatte/Scott amendment to the 2012 Farm Bill.
As Wisconsin's only member on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, Congressman Ribble worked to find a compromise to eliminate a so-called 'dairy stabilization plan,' a complex government intervention in commercial transactions intended to control the supply of milk from farms. Congressman Ribble supported reducing milk price volatility without restricting milk supply, said Laurie Fischer, Executive Director of DBA.
"Representative Ribble's vote for the Goodlatte/Scott amendment shows his support for Wisconsin's $26.5 billion dairy industry," Ms. Fischer said. "Our organization is thankful we have Representative Ribble who was willing to stand up for national dairy policy which allows the market to determine prices paid, versus a government program which tries to stabilize prices."
The Goodlatte/Scott amendment offered in the House Agriculture Committee would have removed the harmful 'dairy stabilization' provision currently included in the proposed House farm bill. It also would provide dairy farmers with the ability to obtain margin insurance, with catastrophic coverage, as a risk management tool for times of low milk prices and high input costs.
"Congressman Ribble understands the importance of producers utilizing risk protections and how important it is to continue to increase Wisconsin dairy product sales both domestically and globally. A government program to curb milk production will risk our reputation as a consistent supplier in world dairy markets," Fischer said.
Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association sees immense growth in Wisconsin exports of cheese and whey products. "Wisconsin is the second largest cheese exporting state in the U.S. and market opportunities are expanding rapidly," said John Umhoefer, WCMA Executive Director. "Representative Ribble understands this opportunity for our state dairy farmers and voted for a free-market oriented amendment that would allow Wisconsin to grow. We applaud his principled stand."
The Goodlatte/Scott amendment would protect consumers by allowing consumer demand, not a government formula, to send signals to the dairy market. A government supply management program arbitrarily penalizes consumers and dairy product manufacturers by uniformly requiring milk supply contraction and raising milk prices. In the House farm bill, now passed by the agriculture committee, dairy is the only U. S. commodity program that would allow this level of government intervention in a free-market industry.
Supply management would be particularly harmful to Wisconsin dairy processors, WCMA's Umhoefer pointed out. "Wisconsin has more markets for cheese than we have milk in the state. Any program that works to intentionally slow milk production reduces our members' efficiency and opportunities in the marketplace. There's no milk surplus here that needs government intervention," Umhoefer said.
On July 11, the Goodlatte/Scott amendment failed to garner the needed votes for adoption into the House farm bill, but the amendment will be offered when the Farm Bill is taken up for debate by the full House of Representatives.
The Dairy Business Association is an industry organization comprised of dairy producers and allied industry supporters. DBA promotes the growth and success of all dairy farms in Wisconsin by fostering a positive business and political environment. For more information about DBA, please visit our website at www.widba.com.
Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, organized in 1891, advocates for Wisconsin dairy processors at the federal and state level. Through representation, education and training, WCMA works to grow the world's finest cheese, butter and whey industry. Visit WCMA at www.wischeesemakers.org.