DAIRY: IDFA Chairman’s Senate Testimony: It’s Time to Grow

At a Senate panel last month, International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) chairman Paul Kruse testified that product innovation and higher worldwide demand have given rise to a potential for growth that will be beneficial for dairy farmers, dairy foods manufacturers and consumers, but that inadequate federal dairy policies are an obstacle to capitalizing on such opportunities. Kruse, the CEO and president of Brenham, Texas-based ice cream manufacturer Blue Bell Creameries, gave his testimony before a joint hearing of two subcommittees of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry, at the invitation of subcommittee chairs Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Robert Casey, D-Pa.

“Our outdated dairy programs stand in the way of our industry’s ability to manage price volatility and are limiting our ability to expand demand for dairy both domestically and internationally,” maintained Kruse. “Current policies significantly distort the market for dairy products and limit our industry’s ability to fully take advantage of our trading opportunities and to respond to our competition for new food products here in the United States.”

Kruse added that Congress should help the U.S. dairy industry by passing legislation enabling it to respond to, and meet the demands of, a burgeoning global marketplace.

“Our dairy industry needs to make a fundamental decision about its future,” noted Kruse. “Where do we want to go? Do we want an insulated, domestic-oriented industry with even greater government intervention in pricing, inventory management and supply control? Or do we want greater opportunity and growth for dairy farmers and milk processors, large and small?”

In his role as chairman of the Washington-based IDFA, Kruse spoke on behalf of the organization’s 220 dairy-processing members, representing over 85 percent of the milk, cultured products, cheese and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States. Kruse has since been succeeded by Gary Vanic, president and CEO of Hiram, Ohio-based Great Lakes Cheese Co., Inc.
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