WASHINGTON — The owner of a northwest Iowa dairy testified today about milk prices before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says the problems with government regulation of the dairy industry date back decades, perhaps as far as the 1930s. He says the trouble originates with what are known as federal milk marketing orders which set up provisions for dairy processors.
“Things that happen in Minnesota and Wisconsin might be different than how they work in California,” Grassley says, “and even in eastern Iowa, I’ve heard of instances where some dairy farmers are getting help from some government program a lot more than they are in another part of eastern Iowa.”
Grassley says it’s a troubled system that varies from state to state and significant reforms are needed. “What you might do to help Iowa people would hurt Wisconsin people or what you might do to help Minnesota and Wisconsin versus California,” Grassley says. “It’s just a terrible, muddled mess to get corrected or it would’ve been done a long time ago.”
The witnesses appearing before the panel include Christina Zuiderveen of Granville, managing partner of Black Soil Dairy. “I’m happy that we’re bringing in the Iowa dairy people to speak to us, to have a voice in the Senate,” Grassley says, “even though we’re probably 10th, 11th, or 12th in the production of dairy compared to some other of the 50 states.”
The Iowa State Dairy Association says Iowa ranks 12th in total milk production nationally and 8th in milk production per cow, while Iowa’s milk production represents 2.45-percent of the total U.S. milk production. In 2018, the ISDA says Americans consumed 646 pounds per capita of milk and dairy products, while in Iowa, the average was 670 pounds.