National Milk Praises Senate Passage of 2018 Farm Bill

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) today lauded passage of the Senate version of the 2018 Farm Bill by a bipartisan vote of 86 to 11. With the House having adopted its version of the Farm Bill on June 21, the two chambers must now reconcile differences in the two bills in a conference committee later this summer.

NMPF thanked Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) for their leadership in finalizing the measure in a timely manner, and commended Stabenow for her work to secure $100 million in additional funding for the dairy title baseline.

“Sens. Roberts and Stabenow have crafted a bipartisan Farm Bill that includes important dairy policy improvements at a time when many farmers are facing a very tough economic time,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “We are pleased that the two chambers now have the opportunity to harmonize their versions to produce a final bipartisan, bicameral bill that can be signed into law by Sept. 30.”

The Senate version of the Farm Bill contains enhancements to the dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) sought by NMPF, including improved coverage levels and greater program flexibility. The bill – which renames the MPP as the “Dairy Risk Coverage” program –  raises the maximum covered margin to $9/cwt. and adjusts the minimum percentage of milk that can be insured. It also includes an important agreement reached between NMPF and the International Dairy Foods Association on price risk management. NMPF commended Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and John Cornyn (R-TX) for their efforts to strengthen dairy policy for producers of all sizes, and looks forward to continuing this work as the process continues.

The Senate bill also contains conservation provisions that will help producers access technical and financial assistance to carry out conservation practices on their operations. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) added a helpful amendment to give dairy farmers greater flexibility in meeting their goals under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

Under the trade title, the Farm Bill re-authorizes the trade promotion programs that are critical to dairy farmers and their cooperatives. Mulhern said NMPF also appreciates the successful efforts of Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Bob Casey (D-PA) to include provisions in the bill that promote the consumption of fluid milk. NMPF also thanked Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) for including provisions of her Dairy Business Innovation Act in the bill to help foster innovation and new opportunities for the dairy industry.