Agriculture Subcommittee Holds Hearing on the State of the Dairy Industry: Subcommittee Chairman Gutknecht Says ‘America’s Dairy Producers are Facing Difficult Times…’

May 20, 2003

AGRICULTURE SUBCOMMITTEE HOLDS HEARING ON THE STATE OF THE DAIRY INDUSTRY
Subcommittee Chairman Gutknecht Says ‘America’s Dairy Producers are Facing Difficult Times…’

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Gil Gutknecht, Chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry, convened his first hearing today to review the state of the nation’s dairy industry and gather information which will provide a sound basis for future dairy policy discussions.

Witnesses testified as to the current market conditions and outlook, trade issues and opportunities, industry trends, the effect of government programs, and other relevant information.

In opening the hearing Gutknecht said, “Here in Congress we often fall prey to…unnecessary divisions to the detriment of America’s dairy producers…While I don’t believe this Subcommittee or this Congress will solve all of these problems, I do believe we can be a part of the solution by attempting to focus on the facts.”

The hearing featured three panels, including economists (USDA and University), dairy organizations and producers representing different regions of the country.

Witnesses included: Dr. Keith Collins, Chief Economist, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C., Dr. Robert A. Cropp, Professor, Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, Dr. D. Scott Brown, Research Assistant Professor, Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, Missouri; Mr. Jerome J. Kozak, President and CEO, National Milk Producers Association, Mrs. Constance E. Tipton, Executive Vice President, International Dairy Foods Association; Mr. Bill Rowekamp, Dairy Producer, Lewiston, Minnesota, Mr. Charles Ahlem, Dairy Producer, Turlock, California, Mr. Brian Boehning, Dairy Producer, Earth, Texas, Mr. Sidney E. Grove, Dairy Producer, Ridgewater, Virginia, and Mr. Gordon B.Hoover, Dairy Producer, Gap, Pennsylvania.

At the conclusion of his written testimony, Keith Collins, Chief economist at the Department of Agriculture said, “USDA has been very attentive to the situation in milk markets and has taken aggressive actions using our full range of authority provided by Congress…While these actions will help provide near term financial assistance to dairy producers, they also risk extending the downturn in dairy prices, as producers may be encouraged to maintain or even increase production.”

In his prepared testimony Dr. Robert A. Cropp remarked, “If the objective of federal dairy policy is to support an efficient, competitive and growing dairy industry, then dairy policy should provide a limited safety net to dairy producers to allow the market forces to work. Dairy policy should be equitable to all regions and allow for needed dairy modernization or expansion.”

In his written testimony, Mr. Bill Rowekamp, a dairy producer said, “It is a privilege to testify before a Subcommittee led by my Representative, Chairman Gutknecht…I am bullish…on an industry that has long been my family’s livelihood and a Midwest stronghold.”

“This hearing provided an opportunity for the Subcommittee to hear from the different sectors of the dairy industry all of which provided helpful testimony which will be instrumental as we move forward in crafting future policy,” Gutknecht concluded.

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