National Milk Producers Federation Chairman Charles Beckendorf says an important victory for NMPF in 2005 was protecting the dairy price support program from proposals to cut it at the organization's latest annual meeting.
Beckendork called the price support program the "bedrock" safety net for dairy farmers, making sure that Congress and the USDA don't weaken it was a key priority for NMPF.
Beckendorf reflected on NMPF's commitment to achieving fair trade deals for dairy farmers. The one receiving the most attention in 2005 was the passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement. NMPF supported CAFTA because even though "the additional opportunity for dairy product sales to Central America is modestâ€¦it's greater with CAFTA than without," Beckendorf says.
Another highlight for NMPF this year was getting Congress to approve one-time use of national check-off dollars to pay for research of dairy farm air emissions. Beckendorf talked about the increased pressure farmers are receiving from their neighbors and regulators. He explained that the data needs to be collected and paid for. He thanked the DMI Board members for their support during this process.
From conversations with Agricultural Secretary Mike Johanns Beckendorf told the audience that the Secretary's major priority is to increase world trade, so it has been important for USDA to know that NMPF is willing to work with the Department on these issues. The Secretary also spoke about the upcoming farm bill and told Kozak and Beckendorf to "be creative" in thinking about the future of all farm programs.
CWT was another 2005 highlight that Beckendorf reviewed. "You can see that once CWT was formed in 2003, the all-milk price has been above historic averages. I'll be the first to admit that CWT is not the only reason we've seen above-average milk checks in the past two years, but it has certainly been a big reason."
Beckendorf concluded by reading a letter received from President Bush days before the meeting. The president thanked NMPF and Dairy Relief for collecting over $40,000 for Hurricane Katrina relief. Beckendorf thanked those individuals and organizations that have contributed to both the tsunami and hurricane relief funds this past year.