Executive Director of PA Dairymen’s Association Testifies on State of the Dairy Economy
WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, U.S. Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson welcomed the PA Dairymen’s Association Executive Director David Smith to testify on the state of the dairy economy.
Smith appeared before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture. He is a fourth-generation dairy farmer who operates a farm in Central Pennsylvania that grows crops and raises young dairy animals on a contract basis. Smith spoke about the benefits of the 2018 Farm Bill, but also the challenges facing the industry.
“The financial stress of our dairy farmers is real. I have personally seen dairy farmer friends struggle through seismic change in their family business model with some selling their business and others seeing the painful loss of their family farm,” Smith said. “The source of this pain is multi-faceted, but one reason is supply and demand. Milk production has outpaced demand, which ironically is a good situation for our nation’s consumers who reap the benefits of having an abundant and affordable supply of dairy products. Our consumers may share a different view if there were a shortage of milk, cheese, ice cream, or milkshakes.”
Smith also spoke about the benefits of Rep. Thompson’s Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act, which would allow both unflavored and flavored whole milk to be offered in school cafeterias.
“What started as an attempt curb childhood obesity, has done the opposite,” Smith said. “In 2010, Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act which amended nutrition standards in the School Lunch Program and mandated that flavored milk must be fat free within the program. I believe that this led to significant changes in beverage consumption habits of children, and it resulted in a 9 percent decline in milk consumption in schools between 2010 and 2012 – not only impacting students, but dairy farmers.”
Read Smith’s full testimony.
“I thank Dave Smith for sharing his valuable insight with the Subcommittee,” Rep. Thompson said. “While times continue to be tough for many dairy farmers around the nation, this hearing also highlighted the positives that are also occurring to help keep our dairies in business. With the newly created Dairy Margin Coverage Program, the 2018 Farm Bill drastically reworked the dairy safety net. I strongly encourage dairy farmers to take a fresh look at this important program and learn about its coverage options.
“We also need to do more to help encourage new markets for fluid milk, both here at home and abroad through trade,” Rep. Thompson continued. “This starts by Congress undoing the needless restrictions on milk varieties within the School Lunch Program and providing schools the option to serve nutritious whole milk once again.”
USDA LAUNCHES NEW ONLINE TOOL
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also announced a new online tool for the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) Program. This tool will help farmers to evaluate different coverage levels to determine the best available option for participating producers. The signup period for DMC begins on June 15, 2019.