Feb. 9, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

K Street Files: Milk a Contentious Topic

International Dairy Foods Association Launches Campaign Against Federal Milk Pricing System

Milk may not seem very controversial, but the wholesome beverage has triggered a lobbying and public relations spat over federal dairy regulations.

The International Dairy Foods Association, which represents the processors who transform raw milk into drinkable and edible dairy products, has launched a six-figure ad campaign urging: "It's time for Big Government to get out of your milk."

"We would like to get rid of the milk marketing system," said Jerry Slominski, senior vice president of legislative affairs for the association. The recently launched campaign which includes print, TV and Internet ads, a YouTube video, a website and a letter-writing drive takes aim at the Federal Milk Marketing Order system, which sets minimum milk prices according to federal formulas.

The campaign portrays the marketing system, which dates to 1937 and was designed to evenly distribute milk profits among farmers, as a complex and outdated "big government boondoggle" that's artificially jacking up the price of milk.

But dairy farmers and cooperatives that produce the raw milk, represented by the National Milk Producers Federation, are not happy about the IDFA's campaign. The NMPF has launched its own lobbying and grass-roots effort to rally support for a bill that would reform the milk marketing system without eliminating it. Known as the Dairy Security Act, the bill was introduced last month by Reps. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Mike Simpson (R-Idaho).

The dairy processors' tactics "expose the entire country to the issues between producers and processors [and] are not healthy for the image of dairy products," NMPF's president and CEO, Jerry Kozak, recently told the World Dairy Diary, an industry blog.

Super Static

Speculation is intensifying that spectrum auctions could be part of whatever deal comes out of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, which has until late November to find at least $1.2 trillion in federal savings.

Four super committee members wrote Friday to President Barack Obama stating that they support voluntary incentive auctions but that auctions alone would not meet the country's growing demand for spectrum. The letter was signed by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) as well as Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.)

Video gamers, firefighters and wireless gadget-makers have sparred for months with broadcasters over how the Federal Communications Commission should handle unused broadband spectrum.

The National Association of Broadcasters, worried that auctions could drive stations out of business unwillingly, wrote a letter to the panel last week arguing that the spectrum shortage is a myth conjured by speculative wireless companies.

The letter came just days after an appeal from the Entertainment Software Association urging the panel to include voluntary incentive auctions to benefit a rapidly growing wireless technology industry. The same day, another plea came from a group of first-responders-turned-citizen-lobbyists who worry that the super committee might end up auctioning off a portion of spectrum known as the D-block that they'd like to see devoted to public safety officials for emergency communication.

The Starbucks Stop Here

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has gotten so much mileage out of his call for a boycott on political donations that he is expanding the effort into a full-blown grass-roots and marketing campaign focused on jobs and small-business lending.

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