Home Industry News Dairy Legislation Mike Durkin of Leprino Foods Company Testifies to House Ag Committee on Ways to Strengthen Farm Bill Dairy Provisions

Mike Durkin of Leprino Foods Company Testifies to House Ag Committee on Ways to Strengthen Farm Bill Dairy Provisions

Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), praised the testimony from Mike Durkin, president and CEO of Leprino Foods Company, in front of the House Agriculture Committee. The hearing, “A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: Dairy Provisions,” featured Durkin alongside other voices in the dairy sector and the federal government, as the House Committee examines strengths and weaknesses in current Farm Bill dairy provisions and other federal policy impacting the dairy industry’s producers, processors, and marketers. Dykes called Durkin’s testimony “sharp, focused, and aimed at building a long-term strategy for U.S. dairy’s growth through shoring up federal programs and unifying the sector.”

“When U.S. dairy is united and remains focused on building a future together, we can accomplish our shared objective to become the world’s dominant supplier of healthy, affordable, sustainable dairy nutrition,” said Dykes. “On behalf of the entire IDFA membership and dairy supply chain, I want to thank Mr. Durkin for his inspiring leadership and vision. In these times of economic uncertainty and rising geopolitical tensions, we must remain united as an industry.”

In his testimony, Mr. Durkin put forward three policy recommendations for the Committee’s consideration. Here are excerpts from Mr. Durkin’s testimony on the three policy recommendations:

First, we hope Congress will require USDA to conduct regular cost of processing studies that will generate data for our industry to use to develop proposals to adjust make allowances.  Current make allowances have not been adjusted in over 15 years, and as a result, they don’t reflect the cost of manufacturing today’s dairy products.

We also ask the Committee to reauthorize and expand the Healthy Fluid Milk Incentives Projects program.  This program requires USDA to test different methodologies to encourage SNAP participants to purchase more dairy products. … A number of pilots were launched last year at grocery stores in Texas, and more pilots came online earlier this month in New Jersey.  In addition, USDA is expected to award funding by October that will allow approximately 250 new pilots in more regions of the country. In the next Farm Bill, we hope that Congress will agree to expand this program to include yogurt and cheese products as well as additional fluid milk options.

Finally, IDFA supports permanent authorization of the Dairy Forward Pricing Program. This program allows producers to enter into forward price contracts with milk buyers for milk used to manufacture Class II, III, or IV products. Current authority for this program expires on September 30, 2023 which means that no forward price contracts may be entered into after that date. Making this program permanent could facilitate greater utilization of this risk management tool because it would mitigate concerns regarding forward contracts with shorter durations due to a pending program expiration date.

Read Mr. Durkin’s full written testimony, as submitted, here.

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation’s dairy manufacturing and marketing industry, which supports more than 3.3 million jobs that generate $41.6 billion in direct wages and $753 billion in overall economic impact. IDFA’s diverse membership ranges from multinational organizations to single-plant companies, from dairy companies and cooperatives to food retailers and suppliers. Together, they represent 90 percent of the milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt and cultured products, and dairy ingredients produced and marketed in the United States and sold throughout the world.

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