cows in field

USDA Dairy Industry Advisory Committee (DIAC) to hold its first meeting

The long awaited and anticipated first public meeting of the DIAC will take place April 13, 14 and 15th at the USDA’s Whitten Building, Rooms 104 A and 107A, Washington, DC 20250. In August, 2009, the USDA announced the committee’s formation in order to ‘review farm milk price volatility and dairy farmer profitability and provide suggestions and ideas to the Secretary on how the USDA can best address these issues to meet the dairy industry’s needs.’ On January 6, 2010, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the appointment of 17 members to serve on the committee. The members were selected from more than 300 nominations representing producers and producer organizations, processors and processor organizations, handlers, retailers, consumers, academia and state agencies. For more information go to: AMSv1.0/DairyAdvisoryCommittee.

NODPA Executive Director Ed Maltby, one of those appointed to the committee, will draw on his 35 years of experience as a dairy farmer and family farm advocate in Europe and North America. He has managed a diverse range of operations from large-scale confinement dairies to grazing operations and smaller family farms, plus has extensive experience in dairy procurement, packaging, and marketing, as founder of a New Englandbased dairy farmer marketing cooperative. In a recent interview, Maltby said, “this will be a great opportunity to think outside the box and provide systemic changes rather than the usual patchwork of programs at times of crises.” He will work within the committee to ensure that the many different ideas that have been proposed for organizing the milk supply are looked at in-depth, and that solutions are based on the reality of a world market, while recognizing that producers need an adequate and predictable return for their capital investment and their work. Maltby will also bring to the table his experience in organic dairy where he has been working with processors and producers to consider many different ways to manage supply, and determine pay price as a result of the recent surplus. “As we prepare for the 2012 Farm Bill, and in the wake of 20 years of price volatility, this committee can provide constructive suggestions for regulatory changes that can build on the momentum for change that the last 2 years of crisis management has created,” he said, adding that, “the organic processors reacted to a surplus with milk supply quotas, paying on utilization of organic milk and lowering pay price. They employed crises management in the organic market, rather than careful deliberation, following the more traditional reaction of the non-organic market. The experience we had leading the consensus process between producers, processors, NGO’s and USDA over the Access to Pasture Final Rule provides a clear direction in how we can do business in the future.”