Dairy Engaged in Busy Lame-Duck Congressional Session
December 6, 2022
Congress is working to finish several key measures before adjourning for the year, one with special urgency for Democrats as Republicans take control of the House of Representatives in January.
While Republicans netted enough House seats to flip the chamber as a result of November’s elections, they did not win as many seats as they were expected and did not reclaim control of the U.S. Senate, making any shifts in the upcoming 118th Congress potentially less dramatic than some analysts anticipated before the election. Members are hoping to wrap up business that includes dairy farmer and cooperative priorities. Among highlights:
- Getting ag labor reform across the finish line. The Senate is currently working on its own ag labor measure, refining and improving upon the reforms provided by the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a bipartisan House-passed measure that would provide permanent legal status for current farm workers and their families and reform the H-2A agricultural guest worker program to include dairy and other year-round workers. Senators in both parties have been seeking to strike agreement on a compromise version that can garner 60 Senate votes. NMPF continues to work closely with Senate negotiators to seek a path forward for any such final measure.
- Passing a fiscal year 2023 spending bill to fund the government. NMPF continues to advocate for enhanced funding for the Food and Drug Administration to review and approve animal feed ingredients that can reduce enteric methane emissions from livestock by as much as 30 percent, which will be critical as dairy seeks to reach its goal of achieving a net zero greenhouse gas footprint by 2050.
- Another key dairy priority in appropriations is securing additional funding for dairy farmers whose reimbursements under USDA’s Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program were limited by the program’s five-million-pound per producer cap, as well as those farmers unable to receive program funds because their milk was not pooled on a Federal Milk Marketing Order but still endured similar price losses. USDA created the program last year to partially reimburse farmers for unintended COVID-19 pandemic losses caused by the heavy weighting of federal dairy purchases toward cheese combined with a change to the Class I mover formula in the 2018 Farm Bill.