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American Farm Bureau Meeting

 

 January 18, 2010

 

In view of the fact that the American Farm Bureau (AFB) represents a cross section of agriculture in the United States, its voice is something of a barometer for policy decisions at the Congressional level.

 

The AFB held its annual meeting January 9 13 at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center in Seattle, Washington this year. Delegates represented all fifty states before an audience, which exceeded 5,000 attendees.

 

The diversity of agriculture represented at the meeting and AFB policy on the vast array of topics required a great deal of time, patience and consideration to move forward in the better interest of our country.

 

Finally, on Tuesday afternoon, the agenda came around to dairy and everyone recognized the plight of US Dairy Farmers. Supply Management came to a vote sending a clear message the

AFB would not support a control over production, which prevents the free market from working and effectively moves us towards Socialism. The vote was 227 against, 83 in favor.

 

While on the one hand supply management was viewed as a form of quota system with comparisons made to Canada and the Netherlands there was strong interest in CWT programs. Discussion on a mandatory CWT program resulted in a vote, favoring language that states the AFB strongly encourages participation in CWT, but does not endorse a mandatory program.

The AFB supports an improved pricing mechanism for dairy, for making the process more transparent, and for revision of Federal Milk Marketing Orders (FMMOs).

 

There was discussion on the cost of production, which came to a vote and recognized a need for the regional cost of production.

 

Lowering the Somatic Cell Count (SCC) to 400,000 was proposed by Wisconsin, the proposal met quick opposition from the Southeast, it was viewed as a competitive disadvantage due to heat and humidity, the SCC remains unchanged.

 

While we recognize we did not gain everything we wanted, we have identified a few tools to move the industry forward with a bit more clarity. We remain optimistic and encouraged for a positive outcome.

 

Respectfully Submitted,

Bill Rowell, Vermont

Tony De Groot, California 

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