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Will 2013 Bring New Federal Dairy Policy?

by Mike Austin

As Congress continues to focus in on gun control legislation and immigration reform both the House and the Senate Ag committees are beginning the process of creating a new long tern farm bill. If that can be accomplished prior to the current extension deadline of  September 30th. is a story in itself. But after numerous conversations with lobbyist, key Ag committee members and Ag economists chances are better than 50-50 that a new farm bill can be written and passed, although with current budget constraints it will be a very frugal one. The question dairy interests are asking is what type of dairy policy will we see.

Again consensus seems to be dairy policy will be revised and we'll be looking at some sort of margin insurance as a producers safety net. The real debate will be whether that insurance option will be tied into some form of supply management program. I asked UW Ag Economists Mark Stephenson whose done economic scenarios on the two leading dairy proposals which one he feels has the best chance of passing and also which of the proposals is best suited for Wisconsin dairy and its hopes of growing statewide production. His audio response can be found below:

The Dairy Security Act is currently supported by the National Milk Producers Federation which represents over 80% of the fluid milk production in the country and a strong coalition of other dairy cooperatives. While the Dairy Freedom Act has the support of the Milk Processors Association and individual dairy organizations such as the Dairy Business Association of Wisconsin. In 2012 the Dairy Freedom Act was defeated in committee but this year it seems to have more support. The Dairy Security remains this years front runner, but right now the outcome may be too close to call