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Election Results Offer Opportunities for Dairy Policy Improvements in Coming Year

November 16, 2016

The election last week of Donald Trump as president will usher in a new approach in Washington to issues of interest to dairy farmers, and NMPF is already engaging with the Trump transition team, as well as officials in the House and Senate, to identify paths forward on several priority issues.

In a statement issued last week following the historic election, NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern said the organization looks forward to working with the Trump Administration “on issues that will help strengthen the U.S. economy, provide regulatory clarity to those in agriculture, and expand opportunities for America’s dairy farmers.”

One of NMPF’s key priorities is to strengthen the safety net for dairy farmers.  As the organization works internally to identify changes that will enhance the value of the Margin Protection Program, it will also be working on Capitol Hill to make the case that those improvements need to happen as soon as possible, and not when the current farm bill expires at the end of 2018. Other commodities within the Farm Bill may also be seeking changes in their existing programs, which could provide the impetus for action on the measure sooner rather than later.

NMPF is continuing its efforts to push for reforms in the school lunch program so that 1% flavored milk can once again be offered.  If Congress fails to address the issue this month during its short end of year lame duck session, NMPF will educate incoming members of the new Congress in 2017 on the importance of reversing regulatory policies that have led to a decline in consumption of nutrient-rich milk in schools.

In the area of farm labor, while immigration was a controversial topic on the 2016 campaign trail, NMPF is pursuing opportunities to advance the organization’s workforce goals in the coming year.  This includes outreach to the incoming Trump administration on dairy’s current and unique labor challenges, and how agricultural employers need access to future workers through a new visa program that will provide certainty to farmers.

Trade policy is also expected to be under the spotlight in the coming year.  NMPF will be stressing the benefits to the U.S. dairy sector of access to foreign markets, as the future growth of American agriculture depends heavily on being able to reach overseas markets. NMPF will highlight how dairy exports are important both to farmers themselves, as well as to thousands of other workers in rural America whose jobs depend on a healthy and growing infrastructure for milk production, processing and marketing.

The new administration is also expected to engage in efforts to reform tax policy, which NMPF views as an opportunity to include the nutrient recovery and biogas tax credit language that was introduced earlier this year in both the House and Senate.  Also in the area of environmental policy, the controversial Waters of the U.S. rule – currently held up in federal court – is not likely to be revived under a Trump Administration. [see story below]