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Industry Issues

My 2 cents’ worth on what’s at stake Election Day

Connie Tipton

Connie Tipton is president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association. She contributes this column exclusively for Cheese Market News®.

Terrorists scare me a lot — and they don’t seem to be losing any strength as we watch our embassies and our beliefs undergo threats and attacks in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world. It doesn’t seem so long ago when terrorists attacked our country; we remember all too well in Washington, D.C., and certainly everyone from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles and every small town in between does, too.

While those attacks haven’t been repeated (thankfully), we know the threat is still there. America’s standing as a respected global superpower and a good citizen of the world seems to be seriously impaired, with displays of open hatred toward America and Americans frequently appearing in world news. To me, none of this is small or insignificant for the future of our country.

Economic weakness and rampant unemployment scare me a lot, too. Political infighting over who is to blame doesn’t make me feel any better. We need leaders who will stand up for their beliefs, not point fingers at everyone else. We need leaders who will craft and support a pro-growth strategy, reform tax and economic policies, and rein in spending beyond our means to pay for it.

Pro-business legislators in the House of Representatives have been alone in passing policies to reduce spending, balance budgets and revise long-term spending strategies. These are facts, yet it is these very legislators who have been demonized for having “stood in the way” of action in Congress. Others in the House and Senate have refused to deal responsibly with these issues; in fact, their actions have hindered job creation and economic growth. And the administration remains apart from the fray, offering little hope for compromise and action to the weary public.

Compared to terrorists and economic viability, farm and dairy policy issues seem somewhat trivial. But it is these individual building blocks, like farm policy, each looked at in isolation, that add up to a federal budget that is out-of-control and unsustainable.

Let’s take dairy policy as an example. The International Dairy Foods Association has long supported safety net programs for dairy farmers that encourage economic signals from the marketplace, rather than just from government policies, to drive decisions by producers, processors and manufacturers. Replacing price supports and direct payments with margin insurance would be a great step in the right direction, but not with the overlay of supply controls currently in both Senate and House farm bill provisions.

We are also long overdue in giving serious consideration to phasing out Federal Milk Marketing Order pricing provisions. These are punitive on Class I processors and will increasingly play havoc with markets as they move milk differently than markets would dictate.

These regulations are just one example of what’s wrong with government. Federal orders were first put in place as Depression-era policy, yet there is no regular review process to consider current relevance or need of these long-standing regulations. The dairy industry can’t be alone in this; similar regulations and laws surely exist in many other sectors of our economy and society, adding to the burden and cost of government on businesses of all sorts. Our president and Congress should provide the leadership to make sure government doesn’t just keep growing with no thought to whether existing programs or even agencies make sense in today’s world.

The elections on Nov. 6 could change the course on any or all of these things, as well as tax, entitlement and healthcare reform; every one of these issues is critical and needs to be addressed. Your participation in the election process and your vote are important rights of citizenship. Be sure you vote — and take someone to the polls with you!

After the last election is called, the current Congress will return to Washington for a lame-duck session beginning Nov. 13. Election outcomes will make a difference in what gets done this year vs. in the next Congress. Electing pro-business, pro-growth candidates in both the House and Senate could turn the tide enough to break the logjam in Congressional action.

Likewise, a pro-business administration would move quickly to get the economy moving in the right direction, while protecting the country’s foundation of free enterprise. The right leadership would make a vast difference in our economic and social well-being.

Fortunately, we have the opportunity to bring about change in Washington when we don’t like what’s happening —or not happening. Casting well-reasoned and well-informed votes on Election Day also could help to ease our fears about the things that are out of our control. We can make a difference.
That’s my 2 cents on what’s at stake on Election Day.


The views expressed by CMN’s guest columnists are their own opinions and do not necessarily reflect those of Cheese Market News®.

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