The conference in East Lansing, Michigan, brought together nearly 200 dairy farmer members of the cooperative, which joined IDFA as a member of the Milk Industry Foundation and National Cheese Institute in July.
Many segments of dairy likely have a shared interest in more than 90 percent of the issues facing the industry today, Dykes told the farmers. He outlined IDFA’s collaborative efforts with industry partners to prepare for the upcoming farm bill and to represent a unified position on international trade issues.
IDFA is working with the National Milk Producers Federation to improve risk management options for both farmers and processors in the upcoming farm bill. IDFA is advocating for provisions that would improve the ability of Class I processors, co-ops and producers to hedge price risk, and to extend the current Dairy Forward Pricing Program for other classes of milk. Dykes also stressed his support for a farm bill that includes enhancements to the Margin Protection Program (MPP), which is a voluntary safety net program included in the previous farm bill. MPP allows dairy operations to protect their margins against both downturns in milk prices and rising livestock feed prices.
Dykes said the two associations made significant progress by submitting joint farm bill proposals to the Senate and House Agriculture Committees, participating in congressional briefings and meeting with staff members at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service.
As part of the farm bill discussions, IDFA is pushing to include voluntary incentives to increase fluid milk consumption in the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP), Dykes said. He noted that the new farm bill provides an important opportunity to help people get the nutrition they need from dairy products.
Switching to trade policy, Dykes discussed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saying it would be devastating for the dairy industry if the administration decided to withdraw from the agreement, currently under renegotiation. He shared recent findings from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, listing Michigan as the state that would be the hardest hit.
Dykes said IDFA is in constant communication with administration officials and members of Congress, emphasizing the need for the country to commit to trade deals and pursue a proactive trade agenda to grow the global market for U.S. dairy products. IDFA and its members have made several visits stressing the issue to members of Congress and administration officials at the White House, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Although U.S. demand is growing for some dairy products, Dykes explained that America’s dairy production is on track to produce an additional 50 billion pounds of milk in the next decade. American dairy products could play an increasingly important role in feeding the growing global population, set to increase to nine billion by the year 2050, but obstacles to trade remain.
Dykes said IDFA is encouraging U.S. trade officials to move quickly on bilateral trade agreements before the European Union and other countries secure pacts in these new markets.
For more information on the farm bill, contact Dave Carlin, IDFA senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy, at email@example.com.
For more information on trade policy, contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.