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National Restaurant Association - NRA: Remove dairy supply management from farm bill

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NRA: Remove dairy supply management from farm bill

The National Restaurant Association has asked the House of Representatives to remove a controversial dairy supply management provision from the five-year farm bill and replace it with a measure that provides security for farmers while allowing the market to determine dairy prices.

The House is currently debating the nearly $1 trillion farm bill, known formally as the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013. Currently, the farm bill contains a provision that gives the federal government the authority to periodically limit the milk supply and artificially raise prices. Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and David Scott (D-Ga.) have proposed an amendment that provides an effective safety net for farmers without imposing the supply management provision, which causes periodic spikes in price leading to increased costs for restaurants and consumers.

The NRA and several member companies sent a letter to Congress on Tuesday in support of the Goodlatte-Scott amendment. “We’ve learned from past experience that government management of commodity supply and demand does not work,” the NRA and its members said. “Restricting milk supplies will increase dairy product costs for both consumers and businesses and will hurt dairy industry growth, leading to negative long-term consequences for dairy farms, processors, retailers, restaurants, consumers and taxpayers.”

Several major dairy suppliers, industry and consumer groups also oppose the supply management program.

While it removes supply management provision, the Goodlatte-Scott Amendment preserves many of the protections currently in the bill. It would provide catastrophic revenue loss protection to dairy farmers at no cost and allow them to purchase additional revenue protection. However, unlike the provisions currently in the bill, it would not require producers to pay registration fees or use the threat of financial penalties to cause farmers to limit milk supplies.

The Senate passed its own version of the bill last week. Passage of the House bill is not certain, as members in both parties have voiced opposition to various provisions.

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