Grams wants to set record straight for dairy farmers

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 7, 2000


Monday, February 07, 2000

U.S. Sen. Rod Grams vows to "set the record straight" about how adversely affected by the Northeast Interstate Dairy Compact are Upper Midwest dairy farmers.

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Grams said federal dairy policies "offer government protection instead of fostering competition."

He and Mark Furth, chief executive officer of the Associated Milk Producers, will testify this week before Congress on what Grams calls the "absolute unfairness" of the current dairy pricing system.

Grams spoke to Minnesota reporters last week in a telephone conference call from Washington, D.C. Earlier Thursday, he took to the Senate floor to debunk myths about the Dairy Compact.

He told his colleagues, Minnesota dairy producers are not permitted to freely sell the product they "so efficiently produce."

"Instead, Congress has chosen to protect entire regions of the milk industry against competition from the Upper Midwest through dairy compacts and outdated milk marketing orders," Grams said.

Dairy compacts require processors pay a minimum price for the milk they sell for fluid consumption, but those producers outside the compact regions are not prevented from "dumping" excess milk into another region.

That the dairy compacts are delivering benefits is an urban myth that Grams and Furth hope to destroy this week, when they testify before Congress.

Then, Grams will continue to fight for a more level playing field for Minnesota dairy farmers.

"This is very critical to the livelihoods of Minnesota dairy farmers and their families," he said. "Without some fairness in pricing, our dairy industry will be just a shadow of what it once was."

Under the current pricing system, dairy farmers in California, the greater Southwest and Florida have an unfair advantage over dairy farmers in the Upper Midwest. "They’re receiving more for their milk and they’re producing more and they’re dumping their oversupply in our area, which further depresses an already seriously hurt dairy industry in the Upper Midwest," Grams said.