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National Milk COO on Dairy Focus

by Mike Austin

A Wisconsin native and a long time acquaintance, Jim Mulhern was recently selected as the COO of the National Milk Producers Federation. During World Dairy Expo Mulhern met with the media to share the focus and priorities of his organization. As one would expect he voiced disappointment that here we are in October 2013 and the industry is still without a farm bill. He did feel the issue could still be resolved this year but admitted, once the conferees were named and the house and the senate members met to work out their differences at least two areas of debate might prove to be contentious. One, being the large gap between the house and senate version of the farm bill dealing with cuts to Nutrition and the SNAP Program. The other deals with new federal dairy policy. Both the house and the senate did approve a program that would contain margin insurance. However, the senate version also includes the market stabilization program which is a form of supply management a measure the house version eliminated through the Scott-Goodlatte amendment. Mulhern says his organization feels the stabilization provision is necessary as a means to check production at times of surplus and low prices, opponents including some dairy and farm organizations from Wisconsin feel production controls are a negative for a dairy operation and a dairy industry that is trying to grow its business. No matter which proposal is adopted, not everyone in dairy will be happy.

On a positive note Mulhern talked of U.S. dairy producing for a global market and is encouraged by the steady growth we are seeing in the sales of U.S. dairy exports. Mulhern say's he's encouraged by several trade opportunities he sees for U.S. dairy and some of the trade agreements we are putting together to increase market access.

Lastly Mulhern shared with me the need for dairy to better tell its story and to dispel the misinformation that is out there especially in the social media. That is why he is encouraging producers to more actively  tell their story and joining the industry in getting more factaul information on the web.

The National Dairy Checkoff agrees with Mulhern in targeting social media and giving consumers more factual data and that is why they have created the website dairygood.org