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Farmers Union gears up for farm bill

DANIEL LOOKER 03/07/2012 @ 7:31pm Business Editor

National Farmers Union delegates wrapped up work on farm bill policy at their annual meeting in an Omaha suburb Wednesday, tackling dairy policy and the beef checkoff, among other things.

Taking a break from leading the discussion, National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson told Agriculture.com that the group will be explaining its new Market-Driven Inventory System to members of Congress next week ahead of the Senate Agriculture Committee’s hearing on a new commodity title for the next Farm Bill.

“I was very pleased that there was really overwhelming support for the MDIS proposal,” Johnson said. “At the end of the day, they said that if there’s a more affordable, better way to provide protection when the market collapses, we ought to do it.”

When asked if any commodity groups are supporting MDIS, Johnson said he doesn’t know of any but NFU hasn’t promoted the idea yet to other groups.

“We have been reluctant to go very far with this until we were certain the delegates were for it,” he said.

On Wednesday, NFU delegates voted in favor of amending the Beef Promotion Act to allow the Cattlemen’s Beef Board to become “a completely independent and freestanding organization.” NFU wants no beef checkoff dollars to pay for salaries or benefits of people who work for a lobbying organization or to pay for individual lobbyists’ salaries and benefits.

In dairy policy, the group favors “meaningful supply management tools.” And, until new policy is included in the 2012 Farm Bill, “it is vital for the survival of the remaining dairy operations that USDA increase the dairy support purchase price to factor in today’s cost of production.”

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