Jersey cows produce less milk, but with higher solids

By CAROL RYAN DUMAS

Capital Press

National All Jersey, the milk marketing counterpart of the American Jersey Cattle Association, opposes the mandated milk-supply management in the Senate's version of the 2012 Farm Bill.

Proposed policy changes would allow producers to participate in a margin insurance program, which guarantees a margin of income over feed costs. But if they choose to participate, they would also be subject to curtailing milk production in times of low margins.

While the organization supports the margin insurance, it does not support across-the-board supply management, which it says would cost its members milk sales and pose a challenge in some regions, such as the Southeast, where fluid milk production doesn't meet demand.

The problem for Jersey milk producers is twofold, said Sarah Gilbert, customer service coordinator for National All Jersey.

The price of Jersey milk, with more solids, is $2.50 to $3 per hundredweight higher than that of "average" milk, and Jerseys produce less milk than average cows.

An analysis of fully subsidized basic margin insurance and supply management over a six-year period by economists Mark Stephenson of the University of Wisconsin and Andrew Novakovic of Cornell University found producers of Jersey milk would see no net benefit. Producers of average milk would see a net benefit of 8 cents per hundredweight.

Producers of Jersey milk would have to purchase additional insurance to see equitable coverage, and they'd be losing more money per hundredweight in lost sales if subjected to supply management, she said.

The NAJ board adopted a resolution that producers of high-quality, high-component milk and producers in areas of high fluid milk utilization need to be able to purchase margin insurance without being tethered to supply management.

"We're in favor of margin insurance, we would just like to have a choice" in supply management, she said.

NAJ was supportive of an amendment offered by Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and David Scott, D-Ga., that would allow producers of high component milk and those in milk-deficit areas to pay higher insurance premiums in return for not being subjected to supply management, she said. The amendment was defeated July 11.

NAJ has not yet seen the language of that amendment or the proposed premium rates but hopes it will benefit its members, she said.

The House is scheduled to consider the farm bill this week.

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