By CAROL RYAN DUMAS
National Milk Producers Federation, which developed federal dairy policy reform being considered in the farm bill, views a vote in the House Judiciary Committee as a good compromise on the divisive milk supply management portion of the Dairy Security Act.
The committee Wednesday approved by voice vote an amendment offered by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., that would require the proposed farm bill's dairy reform program to go through regular government rulemaking.
The Judiciary Committee's vote appears to accept that the Dairy Security Act will become law and is a good compromise, National Milk's President and CEO Jerry Kozak said in a press release.
The amendment applies to any regulations imposed under the farm bill, but Goodlatte is especially concerned with the supply management of the Dairy Market Stabilization Program in DSA.
Those rulemaking requirements were waived in the House Ag Committee's version of the farm bill, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013.
"While we don't want any further delays with passage and implementation of the farm bill, if this maneuver by Rep. Goodlatte is tantamount to his ending the campaign against the DSA and the larger farm bill, then we're OK with it," said Chris Galen, senior vice president of communications at National Milk.
"It's time to move ahead and get the farm bill done," he added
While Goodlatte is supportive of the producer margin insurance contained in the bill, he is opposed to its supply-management program and co-introduced the Dairy Freedom Act as an alternative in April.
That amendment, which provided for margin insurance but did not include supply management, was defeated.
Goodlatte continues to oppose supply management and will address that issue when the legislation is brought to the House Floor, he said in a prepared statement released Wednesday.
"However, at minimum Congress should ensure that those affected by this intrusive program have the right to comment on regulations governing the program and that Congress also reserves the right to review the program," he said.
Major concerns of supply management are that it would increase dairy product prices to consumers, harm exports, encourage imports , increase the cost of government nutrition programs, limit growth in the domestic industry, and discourage new investments in dairy processing, he said.
Goodlatte's amendment preserves the rulemaking and review requirements under the Administrative Procedure Act, which provides for public notice and comment on new regulations, and the Congressional Review Act, which provides congressional review and potential approval of new regulations.
It calls for interim federal rules for the supply management portion of DSA within nine months after enactment and final regulations within 21 months.
"While this is not the approach we chose, we see it as acceptable," Kozak said.
"The important thing is to get dairy reform enacted for the nation's milk producers. If it requires this amendment to do that, we can live with that," he said.