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Farm Bill Process Takes Big Steps Forward in April

October 6, 2012

The process of making major, badly-needed changes in dairy policy took dramatic steps forward last month when both the House and Senate agriculture committees examined how best to improve the dairy safety yet.

Last Thursday, the Senate Agriculture Committee approved a farm bill draft that contains sweeping improvements in dairy programs, including a new Dairy Production Margin Protection Program to help farmers mitigate the risks of volatility of both milk and feed prices. The farm bill was approved by a vote of 16 to 5, and now will proceed to the full Senate for consideration. The bill was not amended in any way that alters the basic framework and usefulness of either the margin protection or market stabilization elements.

The timing of further action is still to be determined; however, farmers should use NMPF’s Dairy GREAT email system to send their senators a note, urging them to pass the farm bill this month.

Meanwhile, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Dairy held a hearing last week, specifically focused on dairy policy and the farm bill. NMPF President and CEO Jerry Kozak (left) explained why the Dairy Security Act will be crucial to improving the federal safety net for dairy producers. Most members of the House panel seemed sympathetic to the argument that current programs aren’t working, and that the compromise approach developed by NMPF has merits.

NMPF’s position was bolstered last week by the appearance of a new analysis of the Dairy Security Act by Dr. Scott Brown of the University of Missouri. Brown’s review found that margin volatility will be reduced through the DSA’s margin protection and market stabilization features, and that neither exports nor consumer markets will be adversely impacted.