The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK


May 18, 2013

Dairy dives deep into unknown

ENID, Okla. — It’s one of American agriculture’s best truisms: Only six people in the world understand U.S. dairy policy and none of the six milks cows.

It’s not true. Only four people understand U.S. dairy policy.

And soon it’s about to get worse.

Under the just passed Senate Ag Committee farm bill, two of dairy’s four operative policy pillars — the Milk Income Loss Contract Program (or MILC) and the Dairy Product Price Support Program — would be replaced by two new programs, the Dairy Production Market Protection Program and the Dairy Market Stabilization Program.

If the names sound confusingly similar, don’t worry, the proposed changes are clearly far more confusing than the programs they’d replace.

For example, the voluntary Dairy Production Market Protection Program is designed to “protect producer margins equal to the difference between the all-milk price and a national feed cost,” according to a Senate Ag Committee description.

That means dairy farmers will be able to sign up for “margin insurance” that provides “a $4 (per hundredweight of milk) margin that will cover a fixed 80 percent of the highest annual milk production in the three years prior to (the new law) going into effect.”

No, I’m not being obtuse; that’s how the proposal is explained by its main promoter, the National Milk Producers Federation, a group that claims to understand U.S. dairy policy.

The other part of the Senate’s overall plan, collectively called the Dairy Security Act, is the Dairy Market Stabilization Program.

That’s a long name for supply management. If dairy farmers choose to join the insurance part of the program, they must agree to either cut production or have their milk check cut “during any month that the stabilization program is triggered by extremely tight margins …” to attempt to bring milk supply into balance with demand.

This was the part of the House Ag Committee-approved farm bill last year that Speaker John Boehner called “Soviet” agriculture. House handicappers point to that objection as a reason the speaker kept the 2012 bill from a full House vote last year.

The House Ag Committee continues to include the Dairy Security Act in its working draft of 2013 farm bill. Its champion, Collin Peterson, D-Minn., the former House Ag chairman and now ranking member, wants it in the committee bill that began its journey to the full House on Wednesday.

Peterson’s plan, however, has competition in both the committee and the full House. A second, similar dairy “reform” effort — that includes an insurance scheme like DSA but not a mandated supply management kicker — is gaining bipartisan support and, according to some Hill handicappers, the speaker’s nod. As such, this plan, called Goodlatte-Scott, may make the final bill, not Peterson’s.

Like all things related to U.S. dairy policy, however, the bottom line to either of these plans is that, honestly, there is no bottom line. No one knows what either scheme — insurance with supply management; insurance without supply management — means to individual dairy farmers.

Equally unknown is what either shift means for retail milk, cheese and yogurt prices.

But, hey, it’s U.S. dairy policy. Under the best of circumstances, only six — OK, maybe three or four — know what all this means and none are in Congress.

Text Only
  • Jeff Bedwell Consider safety of forage beforehand

    Drought conditions of the past three to four years and in particular the past eight months had hay/forage inventories at critically low levels. The most recent period ranked as the third-driest period in recorded history. Not unlike the farmers and ranchers of other times of drought, ag producers now have been very resourceful to not only replace hay supplies that have dwindled but also add much-needed revenue to farm income.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Right to Farm web 1.jpg Ag industry seeks right to farm

    The emerging battle could have lasting repercussions for the nation’s food supply and for the millions of people worldwide who depend on U.S. agricultural exports. It’s also possible the right-to-farm idea could sputter as a merely symbolic gesture that carries little practical effect beyond driving up voter turnout in local elections.

    July 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • farm - Burlington FFA web.jpg Burlington students attend camp

    More than 1,600 FFA members from 289 Oklahoma FFA chapters attended one of four three and one-half day sessions from June 29-July 12.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • farm - Oklahoma's Dirty Dozen poster 150dpi_W.jpg Poster targets invasive plants

    They all have more than four letters, but they are certainly bad words in the state of Oklahoma.

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • farm - Rick Nelson web.jpg Simple steps can prevent fungus infection

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Help plants survive the summer heat

    The July hot weather has arrived, and Oklahoma State University has some suggestions for helping with our gardening needs this month.

    July 12, 2014

  • farm - 4-H_W_W.jpg State 4-H honors volunteers

    A group of dedicated parents and volunteers with Oklahoma 4-H Youth Development Program gathered recently in Stillwater for learning, sharing of ideas and recognition of dedication to Oklahoma’s youth.

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Danna Zook cutout web.jpg Water quality important for livestock

    Even though many areas have been blessed with ample rain this past month, we must not brush aside issues resulting from the evident drought.

    June 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Farm Poisoni_Hass web.jpg Poison tested to control hogs: Preservative used to cure bacon may be key to problem

    Hunting and trapping won’t do the trick for these big, wildly prolific animals. So, the U.S. Department of Agriculture kicked off a $20 million program this year to control feral swine, which have spread from 17 states in 1982 to 39 now.

    June 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • farm  - Junior Beef Ambassadors web.jpg Area youth place in beef ambassador contest

    Cash prizes were given to the top three contestants in each age division.

    June 28, 2014 2 Photos

Featured Ads