A bipartisan group of lawmakers representing dairy producing regions across the country announced the formation of the first Congressional Dairy Farmer Caucus to protect dairy interests in writing the upcoming farm bill.
The new caucus will focus on developing and promoting policy issues that are in the best interest of a healthy national dairy industry, according to a statement from Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn.
The caucus will be co-chaired by Reps. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., Rick Larsen, D-Wash., and Randy Kuhl, R-N.Y., and Sens. Arlen Specter, R-Penn., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
"Dairy farmers in the United States produce the milk and dairy products that ensure the health and nutritional well-being of Americans, but they face unique challenges in delivering these vital products," Peterson says. "The Caucus will help ensure that Congress keeps an appropriate focus on developing and encouraging policies that promote a successful dairy industry."
The caucus will help Members of Congress to work together to address emerging issues of importance to dairy producers and consumers, a goal that will be particularly important as Congress begins to write the next Farm Bill.
Caucus Co-Chair Congressman Devin Nunes says, "It is important for Congress to recognize and support our nation's dairy farmers. As we consider important policies, including the upcoming Farm Bill, the Dairy Farmer Caucus will be an important tool for us to promote an awareness of the industry."
"Washington state has a rich dairy history," Congressman Larsen says. "As a representative with a significant number of dairies in my district, I am proud to be a co-chair of the Congressional Dairy Caucus. I look forward to working with the dairy industry and my colleagues on the Caucus to identify and address areas of importance to this industry, raising awareness of dairy issues across the U.S."
Americans drink more than 6 billion gallons of milk per year, and another 10 billion gallons of milk are used to produce cheese. Yogurt, ice cream, butter and other dairy products use an additional 4.2 billion gallons of milk per year.
"The dairy industry is important to not only my district in rural, upstate New York but so many districts across the country," says Kuhl. "It's a positive step for us to be working across party lines and in both chambers to point out to our colleagues the critical needs of the dairy industry, particularly as we look ahead to consideration of the Farm Bill."
The milk produced by America's 65,000 dairy farmers represents the second largest agricultural commodity industry in the United States by value. Milk accounted for about $27 billion of cash receipts for producers in 2005.