The Dairy Policy Action Coalition sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and a letter to the Dairy Industry Advisory Committee (DIAC) asking they not hastily endorse National Milk Producers' Federation's Foundation for the Future before grassroots dairy farmers see the details and are included in the process. DPAC's Cornerstones summary was included in the emailed correspondence. The coalition had previously presented the key policy points at a June 2010 meeting of the DIAC in Washington.
In the letter, the nationwide producer-led coalition noted concerns shared by the DPAC Board of Directors—all active dairy farmers who have cows and sell the milkproduced from them in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Tennessee along with ad hoc members serving on action groups from Minnesota, Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia and Virginia—who voted at a February board meeting to take a proactive approach and work on an alternative plan.
"While we agree with elimination of the Dairy Product Price Support Program, we have concerns about a centralized margin-triggered national insurance and market (supply) management plan, which we have detailed in our attached preliminary report and attached one-page summary: Cornerstones for Change. Our key policy proposals were previously shared with the Dairy Industry Advisory Committee in June 2010," the letter stated. "While FFTF does mediate some of the volatility, there is evidence that consolidation will occur at a faster pace over baseline, and the plan still does not solve the core issues we dairy farmers face, which is the rapid loss of value in the marketplace at a time of rapidly increasing input costs.
"In short, dairy farmers have lost trust in the system, and do not want to add another government-mandated layer of control to the system, preferring to see future dairy policy that focuses on solving the core issues: improving market transparency and price discovery, encouraging competition and innovation, and positioning the U.S. dairy industry as a consistent supplier in the world market instead of the balancer of the world supply to the detriment of American dairy farmers."
The DPAC letter notes that, "According to the details available, this plan does not include the most important piece. It does not recognize or address the situation of channel consolidation and lost margin share on the part of producers. While processors and cooperatives were profitable over the past 24 months, the producer sector has struggled. During the USDA competition workshop with DOJ in June at University of Wisconsin-Madison, experts testified that the producer’s share of the consumer’s dairy dollar has fallen from 42 cents as recently as 2002 to 27 cents in the past two years.
We have strived to influence National Milk in these areas of policy, but now realize an alternative plan is necessary.