Dairy industry split on element of US Farm Bill

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The dairy industry is split over a controversial program included in the U.S. Senate’s version of the Farm Bill. At issue is how to deal with price volatility.

The bill includes the proposed Dairy Market Stabilization Program. It discourages farmers from over producing milk in order to guard against low prices.

Bill Bruins is the president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. The organization supports the program. He says without it, farmers could be in a situation where they’re producing more milk than the market wants, and ensuring low market prices, “Without the market stabilization portion of the dairy act, there would be no trigger mechanism to cut back on the production. We would become a country awash in milk.”

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But milk processors, like cheesemakers, went as want as much milk as they can get their hands on. Jerry Meisner is the president of the Wisconsin Dairy Business Association. He thinks the market program is bad for business because demand is increasing, “We’ve increased exports in five years, like 25-30% in Wisconsin, and this is going to keep going. We need this milk to grow this Wisconsin dairy industry. We are the greatest area in the state to produce the product.”

The Dairy Market Stabilization Program is included in the Senate’s version of the Farm Bill. But is not a sure thing in the House’s version, which could be up for a vote in the coming weeks. Meisner says while farmer involvement in the program is voluntary now, he wonders if the U.S. government will make it mandatory in the future.

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