Published on Wed, 05/17/2017 - 9:48am
Michigan Dairy Farmer Outlines Changes Needed in Farm Bill Safety Net at Senate Hearing
Article courtesy of National Milk Producers Federation
Dairy farmers in Michigan and across the nation need federal lawmakers to revise the safety net created in the 2014 Farm Bill to provide them adequate risk management protection, according to a dairy farmer from eastern Michigan who testified in Frankenmuth on Saturday at a Senate hearing.
Darrin Siemen of Harbor Beach, Mich., told a Senate Agriculture Committee field hearing held at the Saginaw Valley Research Center that the Margin Protection Program (MPP), created in the 2014 Farm Bill, “has failed to deliver the protection farmers need and expect. While MPP remains the right model for the future of our industry, changes are needed if Congress wants to prevent dairy farmers like me from going out of business,” he said.
Siemen is a fourth-generation family farmer and owner of Prime Land Farm in Harbor Beach, in Michigan’s Thumb region. He testified on behalf of his cooperative, Michigan Milk Producers Association, as well as the National Milk Producers Federation, of which MMPA is a member. His full testimony can be found here.
Siemen said that the MPP is designed to help farmers insure against either low milk prices or high feed costs, but the way the program calculates the relative value of feeds such as corn, soybean meal and hay was “significantly changed” as it was written into law. This change “fundamentally altered the safety net designed by NMPF and other dairy leaders around the country. Unfortunately, as a direct result of these changes, the MPP safety net has failed to deliver the protection farmers need and expect,” he said.
He explained that in the first two years of the program, 2015 and 2016, farmers have paid $90 million in fees and premiums to USDA while receiving only $14 million in insurance payouts, even though margins have been tight during much of that period. This has led to a drastic reduction in the number of farmers paying premiums to selecting higher levels of margin protection. Most are now only paying the minimum annual $100 administrative fee, for which they receive only a low level of insurance coverage.
“I am not asking for a program that guarantees a profit, nor do I want a program that will incentivize excess production,” Siemen said. “However, when Congress made changes to the program, rendering it ineffective, dairy farmers like me lost faith in the idea that MPP could serve as a viable risk management tool under its current formulation. If Congress makes changes to ensure that MPP more accurately reflects the actual costs of production for businesses like mine, participation in the program will increase.”
Siemen said that in addition to adjusting the feed cost formula and the data sources for the prices of feed and milk, Congress should reassess the MPP’s premium rate structure, and consider expanding access to the Livestock Gross Margin program, a separate risk management tool offered by USDA.
The combination of suggested changes to the MPP “will require this committee to make significant and necessary improvements to the program,” Siemen said, so that “it functions as intended and that producers participate in the program. A safety net is not a safety net if no one participates.”
Siemen pointed out that dairy farmers are also facing other policy challenges, including immigration and labor shortages, tax reform, child nutrition and environmental sustainability. He thanked Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow for arranging the hearing in Michigan, and for her engagement on behalf of the U.S. dairy sector in its recent struggle against Canada’s new pricing policy, which will have long-term negative consequences for Michigan farmers’ export opportunities.
He also recognized the efforts of Stabenow and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts for their recent efforts to bring more milk options and flexibility to the School Lunch and School Breakfast programs.
The National Milk Producers Federation, based in Arlington, VA, develops and carries out policies that advance the wellbeing of dairy producers and the cooperatives they own. The members of NMPF’s cooperatives produce the majority of the U.S. milk supply, making NMPF the voice of dairy producers on Capitol Hill and with government agencies. Visit www.nmpf.org for more information.
About the Michigan Milk Producers Association
The Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) is a dairy farmer owned cooperative founded in 1916. MMPA serves approximately 2,000 dairy farmers in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin, handling approximately 5 billion pounds of milk annually. MMPA operates two SQF Level 3 certified dairy ingredient plants in Michigan and a cheese plant in Indiana.
Dairy Industry Applauds USDA Secretary Perdue for Supporting School Milk Options
Article courtesy of National Milk Producers Federation
Dairy leaders thanked newly confirmed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for recognizing the important role school milk plays in ensuring school-aged children get the nutrition they need.
In one of his first actions as Secretary of Agriculture, Perdue visited Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg, Va., to announce that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will implement regulations to allow school districts to again offer low-fat (1%) flavored milk as part of the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. Under the Obama Administration, USDA eliminated low-fat flavored milk as an option in the school meal and a la carte programs. Since then, consumption of school milk declined, as did overall participation in the school lunch program.
“In just the first two years after low-fat flavored milk was removed from the program, 1.1 million fewer school students drank milk with their lunch,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “Secretary Perdue’s action today recognizes that a variety of milks and other healthy dairy foods are integral to child nutrition programs in schools.”
“Today Secretary Perdue took an important step toward bringing back lunchroom favorites – low-fat chocolate and strawberry milk – that students have been missing,” said J. David Carlin, senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy for the International Dairy Foods Association. “When kids don’t drink milk, it’s extremely difficult for them to get the proper amounts of calcium, potassium, Vitamin D and other nutrients that dairy foods supply.”
Perdue was joined in Virginia by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS). Throughout the visit, Perdue outlined principles to provide schools greater flexibility while maintaining the nutritional standards of the program.
“We would also like to thank Sen. Roberts for his efforts to bring more milk options and flexibility to the School Lunch and School Breakfast programs,” said Carlin. In the House, Reps. GT Thompson (R-PA) and Joe Courtney (D-CT) were also strong supporters of enhancing the milk options available to school kids.
USDA will publish an interim rule to cover the regulatory changes needed to allow low-fat flavored milk in schools. It is unclear when the change will be implemented.
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), based in Arlington, VA, develops and carries out policies that advance the well-being of dairy producers and the cooperatives they own. The members of NMPF’s cooperatives produce the majority of the U.S. milk supply, making NMPF the voice of dairy producers on Capitol Hill and with government agencies. For more on NMPF’s activities, visit our website at www.nmpf.org.
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation’s dairy manufacturing and marketing industries and their suppliers with a membership of nearly 525 companies within a $125-billion a year industry. IDFA is composed of three constituent organizations: the Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), the National Cheese Institute (NCI) and the International Ice Cream Association (IICA). IDFA’s nearly 200 dairy processing members operate more than 600 manufacturing facilities and range from large multi-national organizations to single-plant companies. Together they represent more than 85 percent of the milk, cultured products, cheese, ice cream and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States. Visit IDFA at www.idfa.org.
Fight Spring Fly Emergence with ClariFly® Larvicide
By Central Life Sciences
With spring approaching, it is important that dairy operators have a comprehensive fly control strategy in place. The most effective control is established through a multi-faceted integrated pest management (IPM) program, built on the use of a feed-through fly control product like ClariFly® Larvicide. This industry leading solution provides continuous fly control to keep cattle comfortable and productive and improve your bottom line. ClariFly® Larvicide works by interrupting the life cycle of house, face, stable and horn flies, preventing them from maturing into disease-carrying adults. This powerful feed-through solution has even been proven to reduce the emergence of house fly populations by up to 96.7% in the manure of treated animals. For maximum effectiveness, dairy operators should begin administering ClariFly® Larvicide to cattle 30 days before spring fly emergence through 30 days past the first frost, underscoring the importance in starting treatments as soon as possible.
The U.S.-made ClariFly® Larvicide is available in multiple formulations, and it can be used to treat cattle at all stages of life. To learn more, visit www.centralflycontrol.com, call 800.248.7763 or talk to your local feed dealer.
NAFTA Relationships Need Attention as NMPF, USDEC Begin Work with New U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer
Article courtesy of National Milk Producers Federation
The dairy industry is eager to work with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to protect and expand market access for U.S. dairy while addressing problematic Canadian dairy policies, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) said today following Lighthizer’s Senate confirmation.
Lighthizer will begin work on a variety of pressing trade policy issues, including the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), expanding market access channels in Asia, and preventing the loss of common food names.
“We welcome Mr. Lighthizer’ s confirmation because of his grasp of global trade rules and understanding of the importance of balanced trade agreements to the U.S. dairy sector,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “We will continue to urge USTR to focus on protecting Mexico, our No. 1 market, insist that Canada revoke its detrimental new milk pricing policy, and pursue additional export opportunities around the world.”
Another significant challenge for Ambassador Lighthizer is the European Union’s aggressive stance on the use of geographic indications (GIs). Not only must the United States resist using GIs at home, Lighthizer has said, it should discourage other countries from agreeing to use them, as well.
“As the Trump Administration’s trade policy strategy develops, we want to build upon the U.S. government’s past successes in pushing back against the EU’s global GI agenda,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC. “We also want to examine opportunities for bilateral trade agreements in key markets like Japan.” Vilsack recently visited Japan on a trade mission.
Lighthizer’s experience includes deputy trade representative under President Ronald Reagan, chief of staff for the Senate Finance Committee, as well as direct private sector experience in enforcing trade rules on behalf of his clients.