Dykes, Carlin discuss IDFA agenda
International Dairy Foods Association President and CEO Michael Dykes and David Carlin, the IDFA senior vice president for legislative affairs and economic policy, said Tuesday the dairy processor group will focus this year on continuing federal support to increase consumption of milk and on trade policy that can increase exports.
In a virtual discussion during the Dairy Forum, Dykes and Carlin said IFDA will urge the Agriculture Department and Congress to continue to allow the serving of flavored milk with 1% fat in school meals. Dykes said the dairy industry “couldn’t have had a better champion in advancing fat levels in fluid milk than [former Agriculture Secretary] Sonny Perdue.”
Nutritionists have generally favored low- or no-fat milk to discourage obesity, but Dykes said that when students’ first interaction with milk in the schools is with skim milk it “has hurt us.”
Dykes also said that IDFA has “priorities” in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.
Both issues could come up in the reauthorization of child nutrition programs that Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., incoming chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has said she wants to advance this year.
Dykes also noted that USDA already has three pilot programs to encourage participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to encourage families to drink fluid milk and that the fiscal year 2021 Agriculture appropriations bill includes three more pilots.
The pilots should “tee us up well” for the 2023 farm bill when the SNAP program will be reauthorized, Dykes said.
The latest COVID-19 relief program included a recourse loan program for dairy processors that should help dairy processors finance inventories, Dykes said. IDFA will follow the implementation of that program and a dairy donation program to make sure it does not interfere with commercial purchases, he added.
American dairy farmers produce 15% more milk than Americans can consume, and IDFA favors more trade agreements to be able to market the surplus, Carlin said. Trade promotion authority, which allows the executive branch to negotiate trade agreements without fear that Congress will try to rewrite them, expires June 30, and IDFA will “work hard” to get Congress to reauthorize it even though that will be difficult, Carlin added.
Finally, Dykes noted that there are many new members of the House and Senate and said that IDFA members will work throughout the year to acquaint the new legislators with dairy issues.
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