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Has Congress failed dairy again?



Certainly Congress has the American Dairy Farmer in its crosshairs -- or maybe in shackles. It's time that Congress pulls the trigger and does something realistic for dairy farmers, and we don't mean any fiscal handouts for dairymen.



The passage of the Goodlatte-Scott Amendment in the House prevents the undesirable supply management part of the Dairy Security Act from being in the proposed House version of the farm bill.



However, the Goodlatte-Scott Amendment in our opinion will not do anything to raise prices to dairy farmers. The only way prices can be raised and stabilized to dairy farmers is by Congress passing a new pricing formula based on the dairy farmers' cost of production, as contained in the Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act.



Pro-Ag and all the 30-some organizations that belong to the National Family Farm Coalition strongly support this new pricing formula. But we also strongly support a standby supply management program that would only be implemented if milk production exceeds domestic needs. This standby provision -- to be used only when needed -- would be paid for by dairy farmers and not U.S. taxpayers.



I really don't see why this is so hard to understand. Also some of the unneeded imports of dairy products would have to be curtailed. Some other farm organizations across the U.S. like the National Dairy Producers Organization strongly support the need to pull dairy products from the market place if there is too much milk being produced. We still will have to deal with unneeded imports of dairy products.



The farm bill is misnamed and out of control. Whoever thought the cost of the farm bill would reach $1 trillion? The people who are supposed to know claim that the various agriculture programs represent only 20 percent of the farm bill. The various food assistance programs make up the other 80 percent. This is unbelievable. Many people propose that the food assistance programs, which are strongly supported by many members of Congress, be taken out of the farm bill.



However, if this is done would there be enough votes in Congress for the true farm bill?



One thing is certain, if we could implement a standby milk supply management program coupled with a realistic new pricing formula, we could save the USDA $1 billion but even more important, we could start to revitalize many sections of rural America.



We strongly urge the United States Congress to get dairy farmers out of their crosshairs and pass sensible dairy legislation for the good of all America. We urge all members of Congress to give our suggestions strong consideration.



Arden Tewksbury



Progressive Agriculture



Meshoppen, Pa.



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