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Readers' views for Dec. 3, 2010

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National Milk: It's not a quota


The column by Ruth Saunders in the Nov. 11 edition of Capital Press needs a response to correct several of her assertions.


Saunders, who represents dairy processors at the International Dairy Foods Association, would have your readers believe the National Milk Producers Federation's proposed changes to dairy policy would restrict the growth of our industry, in the West and elsewhere.


In fact, NMPF's Foundation for the Future allows for the continued healthy growth of milk production. What it does do is send a clear, unmistakable signal during those few times when margins are severely compressed -- 2009 is a perfect example -- and provides incentives to reduce production of milk for which there is no demand.


We do not support a quota system similar to Canada's, but instead simply want a means of putting the brakes on milk output only on an as-needed basis. Canada's quota system, with a monetary value assigned to each farm, has created barriers to entry and restrictions on growth, whether margins are healthy or compressed. Anyone comparing that program with Foundation for the Future will easily understand the distinction between limits on growth in all situations, versus our proposal of sending clearer signals only when dire imbalances exist.


The other mischaracterization in the article is that the government "pockets the money" collected during times when our Market Stabilization plan is activated. In fact, that money goes right back out the door to stimulate dairy demand, through the purchase of consumer-ready products for donation to food banks and charitable feeding organizations.


We have the opportunity to make real change in dairy policy next year, but it will take the collective effort of dairy farmers to work in unison behind one common-sense plan. We believe Foundation for the Future is the right plan for the entire industry.


Jerry Kozak


President and CEO


National Milk Producers Federation


Arlington, Va.



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