A group of dairy farmers attending the World Dairy Expo last week spoke out opposing the Dairy Market Stabilization provision in the 2012 Farm Bill, also known as "Supply Management."
The highly debated provision in the Dairy Security Act allows the government to periodically impose limits on milk production to spur price recovery, and could penalize farmers that do not comply.
Though the National Milk Producers Federation supports the measure, the International Dairy Foods Association strongly opposes it.
IDFA says the proposed legislation would "raise consumer prices, hurt exports, cost thousands of new jobs and stifle investments in new facilities."
At the World Dairy Expo, however, those speaking out against DMSP were most concerned about reducing production.
"That deduction, at 8% or even at 4%, has a huge impact on our bottom line," said John Pagel, a Wisconsin dairyman. "That 8% can pay a lot of bills or cover my interest at the bank."
Pagel joined other dairy farmers, including LuAnn Troxel, who with her husband milks 130 cows in Indiana, in speaking out against DMSP.
"My opposition to supply management stems from a fundamental belief in our free market system, as I think farmers should have the ability to make their own choices," Troxel said, "and I have a personal desire to have optimal expansion options to accommodate our sons' desires to join our dairy operation."
Gordon Speirs, a 3rd generation dairyman, moved his operation from Canada to Wisconsin in 2003. The farm is a 1,500 cow dairy and is in the process of expanding to 2,100 cows over the next two years.
"I am opposed to supply management because once regulations are in place and found to be not working, the government will do their best to try to fix it with more regulations," said Speirs. "This was my experience in Canada with the quota system and I expect it will not be different here."
Jerry Meissner, president of the Board of Directors for the Wisconsin Dairy Business Association, and owner of a 2,000-cow operation in Wisconsin, said the program was "bad news" for Wisconsin.
"Dairy farmers in Wisconsin could have been penalized up to $18,000 had this program been in effect now," he said.