A coalition of farmers known as the 'Dump the National Dairy Board Campaign,' group, claims to have enough support to overthrow one of the nation's largest milk promotion boards. The group was waiting to hear the results of meetings with newly appointed USDA officials last week. The group has had a couple of meetings with USDA officials in the past couple of months, according to the Dairy Foods Newsletter, an industry publication.
If the group is successful, the five-year-old National Dairy Board would most likely cease to exist, putting to rest its sole purpose of being: To spur greater consumption of milk products. McCann-Erickson currently handles the larger fluid milk business, while Grey handles advertising and promotion for other milk products like butter and cheese. Farmers currently shell out a nickle for every 100 pounds of milk to the National Dairy Board for the promotion budget. Another dime is taken out to support other dairy programs such as the American Dairy Association and local state associations.
But the group faces a number of daunting challenges before getting a resolution passed, including convincing officials in President Clinton's new administration. Also, one of the biggest stumbling blocks is bloc voting by cooperative dairies. Currently, co-ops can bloc vote on National Dairy Board issues, meaning that co-ops, in effect, represent dozens of dairy farmers.
'If we have a one-farmer, one-vote democratic process, we are very confident that we'll be able to succeed,' said Wisconsin dairy farmer John Kinsman, who helped organize the campaign. 'One of the keys is not to have the co-ops bloc vote for the farmers.'
Industry insiders say if the group is successful, it would call into question the whole concept of state and national programs designed to promote greater consumption of a number of food products.
National Dairy Board officials could not be reached for comment last week.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)