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Farm Bill Slated for Reconsideration in House; Senate Agriculture Committee Approves Its Version

June 13, 2018

NMPF continues to work with its congressional allies to ensure the enactment of a bipartisan, bicameral Farm Bill before the current one expires on Sept. 30. Both the House and Senate are making progress on their respective versions of the Farm Bill, with action likely in both chambers in June.

The 2018 Bipartisan Budget Act – the large spending bill passed earlier this year – made key improvements to the dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) and expanded risk management tools for dairy farmers, but additional dairy policy changes are needed in the 2018 Farm Bill. NMPF is seeking additional improvements to the MPP, such as increasing the program’s coverage levels to ensure that it better reflects producer margins, as well as ensuring that the program is applied equitably to producers of all sizes.

The House Agriculture Committee adopted its Farm Bill in April, but disagreements between the two parties on nutrition issues resulted in a party-line vote on the measure in committee.  The House bill includes several NMPF priorities, including additional reforms to the dairy safety net, as well as provisions on conservation, trade and nutrition.

When brought to the House floor on May 18, the Farm Bill failed to pass due to an unrelated dispute over the future of immigration policy. During the bill’s consideration, NMPF, the International Dairy Foods Association and a broad coalition of agricultural, public health and consumer organizations worked to resoundingly defeat an amendment that would have permitted the sale of raw milk across state lines (see following story).

The House is now slated to re-vote on its version of the bill on June 22.  Meanwhile, the Senate Agriculture Committee approved its version on June 13. It also makes several improvements to the dairy safety net, although the bills are not identical and will need to be reconciled in a conference committee once approved by each chamber of Congress. Given that the impending election season is likely to deter action on any congressional initiatives, NMPF has continued to urge lawmakers to prioritize work on the Farm Bill this summer.