The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) thanked members of Congress, especially the bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, for crafting a farm bill that includes much-needed reforms to help American dairy farmers. The 2018 Farm Bill reached a key milestone on Monday with the release of a long-awaited conference report.
“Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle should be commended for reaching a deal that will benefit U.S. agriculture and ensure safe, affordable food for Americans and the world,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “A new law is especially important for dairy, a sector struggling with low prices and disrupted exports. We thank lawmakers for addressing our concerns with measures that will help producers in need.”
NMPF called on the full Congress to pass the bill quickly while thanking its four principal negotiators: Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), as well as House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN). While the bill includes a vast array of farm policy changes, improvements benefiting dairy include:
- Higher coverage levels in a renamed Margin Protection Program (MPP) that address deficiencies in the current program’s feed-cost formula
- Greater flexibility to allow producers of all sizes to access Tier 1 premium rates
- Expanded access to additional risk management tools, allowing producers to participate in both MPP and the Livestock Gross Margin insurance program
- Continued support for land and water conservation programs that assist dairy producers
- Full funding for Farm Bill trade promotion programs, a crucial concern in an era of markets lost to tariffs
- Nutrition provisions intended to enhance consumption of fluid milk
The law’s provisions build on improvements enacted in the Bipartisan Budget Act earlier this year, including dairy safety net reforms spearheaded by Stabenow and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), as well as risk management provisions championed by Conaway and Peterson.