EMBARGOED For Release Contact: Jim Campi or Aaron Taylor
September 15, 1999 at 10:00 a.m. (202) 467-5300

(Washington, D.C.) – Following are remarks by Thomas Schatz, President of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW).  Schatz spoke at a Capitol Hill press conference in opposition to H.R. 1402.  The bill would repeal Clinton Administration reforms to America's milk marketing system:

Tomorrow, the House will consider H.R. 1402, a bill that will reverse the modest reforms in dairy policy recently made by the Department of Agriculture.  The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste opposes this bill as written, and strongly supports the amendment being offered by Congressmen John Boehner (R-Ohio) and David Obey (D-Wisc.) that would repeal milk marketing orders and allow dairy farmers the freedom to make economic decisions without government interference.

In its decision to follow the mandate of the 1996 Farm Bill to reduce the number of milk marketing orders and change milk pricing to better reflect current market conditions, the Department of Agriculture took some small steps toward reform.  After considering more than 4,000 comments, and extensive analysis by economists, producers and processors, USDA reduced the number of milk marketing orders and decreased the price differentials that are now charged based on how far the milk is produced from Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  But some members of Congress are refusing to accept even these minor changes in dairy policy and want to enact H.R. 1402.

The bill only adds to the current command-and-control structure in the dairy industry, with decisions on how much milk should be produced and how it can be used remaining in the hands of the Department of Agriculture.  The Boehner-Obey amendment would go the opposite way of H.R. 1402 by repealing milk marketing orders entirely.  The amendment would save taxpayers at least $149 million annually and consumers at least $1 billion annually.  While CCAGW strongly endorses this amendment, we urge the House to at least allow implementation of the milk marketing order reforms as proposed by USDA and reject H.R. 1402.  CCAGW will consider rating votes on both the amendment and the bill in its 1999 Congressional Ratings.

The 1996 Farm Bill incorporated freedom to farm for most commodities, but did not free the dairy program from excessive federal control.  As Congressman Boehner has said, it’s time for freedom to milk, and time to end the antiquated milk marketing order system that may have made sense 65 years ago, but which no longer serves the interests of the American people.



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