Who writes the Farm Bill?

Hoard's Dairyman: 

Who writes the Farm Bill?

Date: 
Wed, 07/06/2011

One week ago (Where do I find more information about the Farm Bill?) we told you where to find historical information on the Farm Bill. This week we’ll delve into which parties get a hand at haggling over each line-item in America’s contract with its food providers and citizens. We’ll focus on dairy groups, but undoubtedly there are many more trying to take a bite out of the federal legislation. We’ll start with two of them here:

National Milk Producers Federation (nmpf.org)
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) is based in Arlington, Va., and has been involved in national dairy policy since 1916. On its website, NMPF states that they develop policies that “… advance the well-being of dairy producers and the cooperatives they own.”

NMPF currently boasts 31 cooperatives and 40,000 total dairy producers. When it comes to dairy policy, it really is the heavyweight, despite recent attempts to form alternative dairy farmer organizations.

On its board of directors, it has both dairy producers and cooperative staff. Dairy Farmers of America, being the largest cooperative on the board, currently holds 12 of its 40 total seats and is able to elect the president of the eight-member executive officer team. It should be noted that Dairylea and St. Albans Cooperative Creamery hold board seats at DFA and also hold one seat each on the NMPF board.

NMPF backs its own Foundation for the Future (futurefordairy.com) program as dairy legislation before the Farm Bill. Beyond the Farm Bill, it works on all aspects of dairy farming, including energy and environment, animal health, federal orders and economic policies, food safety, trade, standards and labeling, immigration, and nutrition.

Jerry Kozak is the CEO and Randy Mooney (of DFA) serves as chairman of the board. They have spent $215,934 so far in 2011, and a total of $678,885 in 2010, lobbying on dairy, according to OpenSecrets.org run by the Center for Responsive Politics.

International Dairy Foods Association (idfa.org)
On the other side of the dairy lobbying table is the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). IDFA’s membership includes both privately held and publicly traded food manufacturers, including some of the cooperatives involved in NMPF.

IDFA claims 220 dairy processing members and 175 divisions, subsidiaries, and joint ventures of those processors. University food science departments, other trade associations, and suppliers are also members of IDFA.

The CEO of IDFA is Connie Tipton, while Gary Vanic of the Great Lakes Cheese Company is chairman of the board. Interestingly, Dave Fuhrmann of Foremost Farms USA serves as secretary on the NMPF board and treasurer on the IDFA board. For 2011, IDFA currently holds the title of spending the most on lobbying at $325,000. In 2010, it ended up third on the list at $827,000.

IDFA is also an all-encompassing dairy organization working on dairy policy and economics, environment and sustainability, food safety and defense, global markets, labeling and standards, and nutrition and health.

Next week, we’ll look at the profiles of the other three “top five” dairy lobbying clients: Dean Foods, DFA, and Land O’Lakes.