Beef producers were concerned last week when news items suggested that the U.S. Congress was considering a 300,000-head dairy buyout as part of the economic stimulus package. The industry might have overreacted though, as the House version of the stimulus package did not contain any provisions for a dairy buyout.

According to a California newspaper, a drop in milk prices to $9 per hundredweight is prompting some dairy organizations, including California-based Western United Dairymen, to continue to push for a dairy termination program that will take approximately 300,000 cows out of production.

According to the report, Cooperatives Working Together, a national coalition of regional co-ops that represents 62 percent of U.S. milk production, is supposed to be discussing the plan in more detail this week.

To get to the bottom of the issue, AgriTalk radio host Mike Adams yesterday interviewed Michael Marsh, chief executive officer of Western United Dairymen, and Colin Woodall, executive director of Legislative Affairs for National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Marsh says that while there is a need for assistance for the dairy industry, there was no push for stimulus money for a buyout. He said the only mention of the buyout was in a NCBA press release opposing the idea. But NCBA’s Woodall says dairy interests were indeed shopping the buyout package around Capitol Hill, and NCBA pushed back to protect beef prices.

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