News & Resources

NMPF Board Meeting Updates Members With Talks From Staff – and Friends

March 1, 2019

Top policy-makers from Capitol Hill and USDA highlighted the March meeting of the NMPF Board of Directors as the organization’s leaders learned more about implementation of the new Dairy Margin Coverage program and discussed new initiatives in the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) program and NMPF’s ongoing efforts to address labeling of fake dairy products.

Richard Fordyce, administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency, updated the Board on   farm-bill implementation on March 4, the first day of the two-day conference Fordyce said he was pleased that dairy programs were on a fast track to implementation while warning about some of the technical barriers to putting initiatives in place, including problems with past MPP record-keeping and the need to quickly create a high-quality decision tool to help farmers make the best decisions for their operations.

“FSA has done a good job of delivering customer service, and we’re going to get better at it,” he said. “Get in, understand the program, get farmers to understand it, not have a lot of glitches, that’s our priority and our goal,” he said, reiterating Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s promise the previous week to have DMC signup starting June 17, with the first payments to farmers under the new program starting by July 8.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (at left, speaking with AMPI chairman Steve Schlangen) spoke to the board at its Monday evening dinner. Praising the program, Peterson said “dairy needed the most help in this farm bill, and I’m pleased we were able to deliver.”

“I wanted to make sure that we had a program that worked, and this program should work for everyone,” including larger and smaller producers, he said. “We’re hoping that we have a good sign-up.”

Wide-ranging efforts

The board meeting featured presentations from NMPF staff on a wide range of issues in which the voice for dairy in Washington serves its members:

  • Emily Yeiser-Stepp, senior director of the FARM program, outlined proposed updates to the FARM Animal Care, now in a public comment period, explaining how FARM will remain the leader in dairy-care standards. Nicole Ayache, sustainability director, updated the group on expansion of the FARM environmental stewardship program and FARM’s development of materials to assist members on workforce development issues;
  • NMPF regulatory chief Clay Detlefsen detailed potential impacts for dairy farmers under a new proposed Waters of the U.S. rule, which NMPF has been reviewing to find opportunities to advance improvements. He also updated board members on the latest phase of the fight against various foods misappropriating dairy terms – the NMPF’s citizen petition outlining a course of action for the FDA to take in resolving the issue;
  • Chief economist Peter Vitaliano gave an update on the dairy economy, forecasting a modest price recovery in the second half of the year;
  • Jaime Castaneda, head of policy strategy, and government relations head Paul Bleiberg, , discussed NMPF’s work with USDA on farm-bill implementation and current Capitol Hill challenges, including immigration reform and infrastructure legislation;
  • Shawna Morris, vice president for trade, gave an update on trade talks and turmoil, along with an analysis of the prospects for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement before Congress; and
  • Jamie Jonker, vice president for sustainability and scientific affairs, discussed antibiotic and animal health issues.

“It’s a great honor to lead this staff,” NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern said in his introductory remarks. “As you will hear in these reports, on issue after issue, their depth of knowledge and the dedication they bring is unparalleled here in Washington.”