Members urge adoption of House farm bill dairy provisions

The dairy fight in the farm bill conference continues to simmer, with a group of House members calling on the farm bill conference to abandon controls on milk production. 

House ranking member Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) claimed that conferees have already decided to adopt his Dairy Security Act as part of the package, even though Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and 291 members supported gutting it. The Peterson language is contained in the Senate farm bill but was stripped during floor debate in the House. 

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Supporters of a rival approach that provides subsidies but does not limit milk production are saying not so fast. 

Twenty-eight members of the House have written to the conference urging that it adopt the House dairy provisions favored by milk users and opposed by the National Milk Producers Federation.

The Nov. 15 letter obtained by The Hill was spearheaded by Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) and claims the Dairy Security Act would raise milk prices by as much as 35 cents a gallon, hurting the poor.

"The incorrectly named stabilization program will periodically spike milk prices and increase the costs of healthy and nutritious dairy foods for all Americans," the letter states. 

Most of the signagtories to the letter are liberals who may be unwilling to vote for extensive cuts to the food stamp programs. If the farm bill conference contains such cuts, the votes of Peterson's block could outweigh that of the liberal caucus. On the other hand, a compromise with smaller cuts to food stamps could require a large number of liberal Democrats to get through the House given likely defections from Tea Party conservatives.

Letter to Farm Bill Conferees - Dairy