Members of the National Milk Producers Federation met this week in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., to discuss the state of the organization and progress toward goals such as the passage of the Dairy Security Act and continuation of the group's responsible production program.
The Dairy Security Act, also referred to by some as "supply management," is included in both the Senate-approved and House Agriculture Committee's 2012 Farm Bill, but NMPF Chairman Randy Mooney expressed dissatisfaction in House's failure to vote on the bill prior to its Sept. 30 expiration.
"The House of Representatives has punted on the entire Farm Bill," Mooney said. "The House Ag Committee did its job and passed by a wide, bipartisan margin a Farm Bill back in July. There was enough time for the full House to act on the bill…but they didn't."
NMPF joined the Farm Bill Now! coalition in August to increase pressure on Congress to pass the bill. Though it was not passed prior to expiration, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Oct. 24 said he was committed to bringing the bill to the floor in the lame duck session.
Mooney suggested NMPF members keep pushing legislators to act.
"If the question in Washington is how to reform government programs and make them more effective, we have an answer: pass the 2012 Farm Bill. By not acting on this measure, Congress actually increases federal spending next year," Mooney said.
Dairy Programs, Trade and Marketing
Responding to consumer demand for transparency in production, the NMPF launched the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management Program, a voluntary program that includes a set of guidelines designed to demonstrate dairy farmers' commitment to animal care.
Participation in the program has continued to increase, but more farms, co-ops, and companies are still needed. The program recently launched a "See It, Stop It" campaign that encourages workers to share information about potentially problematic animal care practices with farm management.
In addition the the new program, NMPF reported progress in collaborations with the U.S. Dairy Export Council and Consortium for Common Food Names to represent dairy farmer interests in negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement and Geographic Indications.
The dairy farmer-funded Cooperatives Working Together program has also helped export the equivalent of 2.2 billion pounds of milk, or 60% of the increase in 2012 milk production, to buyers overseas in 2012.
NMPF has also assumed management of the REAL Seal program. The seal is a marketing tool "to distinguish between products made from real milk, and those that are either imported or not made from milk at all," said NMPF President and CEO Jerry Kozak.
Although the symbol is used by 360 food companies, NMPF's leaders stressed that there is more work to be done to build additional awareness of how the icon can help sell dairy products.
For full text of Kozak and Mooney's annual meeting presentation, click here.