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NMPF Co-op Members Speak at House Agriculture Committee Listening Session

March 2, 2023

Three NMPF cooperative members gave voice to critical dairy producer priorities at a bipartisan House Agriculture Committee farm bill listening session held in Tulare, CA on Feb. 14. California dairy farmers Brad Bosch, Jared Fernandes, and Tony Lopes spoke up for dairy at the session.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, R-PA, presided, accompanied by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-CA, and Representatives David Valadao, R-CA, Jim Costa, D-CA, John Duarte, R-CA, Jimmy Panetta, D-CA, Doug LaMalfa, R-CA, Salud Carbajal, D-CA, David Rouzer, R-NC, and John Rose, R-TN. Dairy was top-of-mind as farmers and lawmakers discussed critical agricultural policies at this session held in the nation’s largest milk-producing county. All members emphasized the urgency of completing the new farm bill in a timely manner, with Chairman Thompson and Speaker McCarthy voicing support for completion of a bipartisan bill on-time this year.

“Just as NMPF appreciates the work dairy producers do every day to nourish our nation and the world, we are grateful to each of our members for taking time out of their day to attend this important session,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “We also thank Chairman Thompson, Speaker McCarthy, Representatives Valadao and Costa, and their colleagues for hosting today’s farm bill listening session.”

NMPF cooperative member farmers highlighted critical issues NMPF is hoping the House Agriculture Committee will consider in crafting the 2023 farm bill, including key matters related to the Federal Milk Marketing Order system, the Dairy Margin Coverage program and other risk management tools, and the important sustainability opportunities that farm bill conservation programs provide to dairy producers of all sizes.

Brad Bosch, a southern California dairy farmer and California Dairies, Inc. and Dairy Farmers of America member-owner, highlighted the work NMPF is doing to lead the dairy industry toward a consensus proposal for modernization of the Federal Milk Marketing Order system. Bosch highlighted the need to return to the previous “higher of” Class I mover formula on account of the asymmetric risk farmers bear under the current formula, as well as NMPF’s support for farm bill language to require USDA to conduct mandatory plant cost studies to provide all industry stakeholders with a better understanding of real dairy manufacturing costs.

Jared Fernandes, a third-generation dairy farmer from Tipton, California and Land O’Lakes member-owner, urged the committee to maintain and strengthen the Dairy Margin Coverage program as well as risk management tools that were previously improved in the 2018 farm bill. Fernandes also urged members to support USDA conservation programs, which provide vital support toward dairy’s ongoing sustainability efforts, and to include farmer cooperatives as part of the conservation delivery system.

Finally, Tony Lopes, a fourth-generation dairy farmer from Gustine, California and CDI and DFA member-owner, voiced appreciation for the successes included in the 2018 farm bill but also noted that recent pandemic and supply chain constraints have put a spotlight on the need to make further improvements to dairy policy. Lopes also recognized the importance of nutrition programs that feed families across the country, including dairy’s role as a nutrient powerhouse within those programs.

NMPF looks forward to working with members of Congress on these and other critical priorities as work gets underway on the farm bill this year.