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Roll Call

The House : Milk Overproduction

October 06, 1985

An amendment to attack the problem of milk overproduction by lowering federal price supports for dairy farmers was defeated in the House by a vote of 166 for and 244 against. The vote occurred during consideration of a new five-year farm bill (HR 2100), which remained in debate. It was a defeat for the Administration, which praised the amendment as a cost-cutter that would give free-market forces more of a role in regulating supply and demand.

It was a victory for farm-state legislators and others who said the farm economy is too fragile to withstand cuts in federal income supports.

The amendment sought to lower the present milk price-support level of $11.60 per hundredweight by 50 cents annually until it reaches $10.10, the estimated price at which it no longer would be profitable for farmers to sell their surpluses to the government.

Left intact by the vote was the House Agriculture Committee plan to control production through the incentive of paying farmers to thin out their herds. Price supports would rise slightly as surpluses are cut.

Backers said the committee plan would "cull cows" while the amendment would "cull farmers."

Sponsor Robert Michel (R-Ill.) said his amendment gave members a choice between "intervention through a cartel-like system, or faith in markets and freedom."

Opponent Arlan Stangeland (R-Minn.) said the amendment "would drive countless family farmers out of dairying by repeatedly imposing wrenching price support reductions until dairy supply and demand . . . are in balance."

Members voting yes favored lowering dairy price supports.

How They Voted Yea Nay No vote Rep. Anderson (D) x Rep. Dornan (R) x Rep. Dymally (D) x Rep. Lungren (R) x

Sugar Supports

The House rejected, 142 for and 263 against, an amendment to reduce the federal price support of raw cane sugar by one cent each year below the present level of 18 cents per pound, to a floor of 15 cents. Beet sugar supports, which are tied to cane supports, also would have been lowered. The amendment was backed by the Administration. It was proposed to the new farm bill (above), which would continue the 18-cent level and allow it to rise but not fall during the life of the legislation.

Supporter Stephen Solarz (D-N.Y.) said the existing federal sugar program, which limits imports and subsidizes growers, "is costing consumers $3 billion in order to help 13,000 producers."

Opponent Bill Schuette (R-Mich.) called the amendment "quite simply a blueprint for the demolition of the American sugar industry."

Members voting yes wanted to lower sugar prices supports.

How They Voted Yea Nay No vote Rep. Anderson (D) x Rep. Dornan (R) x Rep. Dymally (D) x Rep. Lungren (R) x

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