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NMPF Advances Dairy Priorities in Farm Bill, Ag Labor, Sustainability

September 6, 2023

  • Advocated for farm bill policies that maintain and strengthen gains made in 2018
  • Prepared farmer cooperative members for farm bill listening sessions
  • Helped obtain a commitment from House leadership to work on ag labor reforms that would protect current workers, allow year-round sectors to access H-2A, and reform H-2A wages
  • Assisted bipartisan House ag labor working group in developing its report and recommendations on how to fix the broken ag workforce system
  • Helped advance bipartisan legislation to spur approval of innovative products to help farmers reduce enteric methane emissions.

Agricultural organization government relations teams are facing a dynamic legislative environment in 2023, a “farm bill year” that brings a heightened focus on agricultural and food policy in Congress. NMPF has successfully navigated this policy climate, seizing opportunities to advance on traditional farm-bill topics as well as agricultural labor reform and sustainability concerns that are among dairy farmers’ top policy priorities in 2023.

The farm bill due to expire Sept. 30 leads this year’s agricultural policy agenda. NMPF seeks to build on its successes in the last farm bill to strengthen the dairy safety net and provide producers with access to a range of risk management tools. NMPF supports updating the Dairy Margin Coverage program’s production history calculation to better reflect current data, as well as further strengthening key dairy risk management tools. As part of its effort toward modernizing the Federal Milk Marketing Order system, NMPF also is seeking to restore the previous “higher of” Class I mover formula in the most expeditious manner possible and advocating for language to direct USDA to conduct mandatory plant cost studies every two years to better inform future make allowance discussions.

NMPF cooperative members have voiced these key points across the country as the House Agriculture Committee has embarked on a nationwide producer listening tour intended to help Committee Chairman GT Thompson, R-PA, and Ranking Member David Scott, D-GA, craft a new law.

NMPF is also advancing the workforce needs of dairy farmers, even as lawmakers appear reticent to work on immigration reform beyond border security measures. NMPF and the Agricultural Workforce Coalition (AWC) in May worked with Congressman Dan Newhouse, R-WA, and other congressional champions to turn the controversy surrounding the Secure the Border Act (H.R. 2) into an opportunity to gain a commitment from House majority leadership to work on ag labor reforms to protect current workers, allow year-round sectors to access H-2A, and reform the H-2A wage. NMPF also assisted the House Ag Committee’s bipartisan ag labor working group to develop a report on the current problems with America’s ag labor system and draft a set of bipartisan recommended solutions. The working group plans to issue a preliminary report in early fall.

Following a historically productive 2022 on sustainability front through passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, NMPF has not slowed down in 2023.

Beyond farm bill conservation programs, NMPF and partners worked closely with Senators Roger Marshall, R-KS, and Tammy Baldwin, D-WI, to advance legislation to enable the Food and Drug Administration to review animal feed ingredients as food, not as drugs. That would help unlock animal feed ingredients to reduce enteric methane emissions by as much as 30 percent, a key role in dairy’s sustainability efforts once approved for use. The provision backed by NMPF and sponsored by the two senators secured a strong bipartisan vote of 19-2 for this bill in the Senate HELP Committee in order to smooth its path to eventual passage this fall.

A “farm bill Congress” is a busy one no matter what. After having laid significant groundwork this spring and summer, NMPF is eager this fall to support passage of a farm bill that improves dairy policy while also informing the important efforts of the House’s agriculture labor working group and making further legislative gains to give producers the stewardship tools they need. With another presidential election looming next year, NMPF is ready to seize what may be a last window of opportunity this fall to notch wins for U.S. dairy producers and the cooperatives they own.