Latest News

NMPF Secures Policy and Funding Wins in Final Ag Spending Deal

April 3, 2024

NMPF worked closely with Congress on several key provisions of a spending bill, ranging from school milk to broadband access, that were included this year’s appropriations for the USDA and FDA that President Biden signed into law March 9.

Among the law’s highlights for dairy is legislative language supporting the consumption of milk and dairy products.

  • The bill requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow 1% and fat-free flavored milk to be offered at all grade levels, not just in high school, when it finalizes its upcoming school nutrition standards rulemaking;
  • It prevents the final school nutrition rule from limiting sodium, which is often added to cheese for functional purposes, in a manner more restrictive than the Target 2 sodium levels published in USDA’s 2012 school meals rule; and
  • The explanatory statement accompanying the bill directs USDA not to reduce the maximum monthly milk allowance under the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program as it finalizes updates to the WIC foods package.

The enacted measure also funds numerous important agriculture programs. Dairy highlights include:

  • $90 million for the ReConnect program, the USDA Rural Development program working to provide broadband service to eligible rural areas;
  • $12 million for the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives program, which provides direct technical assistance and grants to dairy businesses to further the development, production, marketing, and distribution of dairy products;
  • $10 million for the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network, a USDA program aimed at connecting those working in agriculture to stress assistance and support programs; and
  • $3 million for the Healthy Fluid Milk Incentives Projects authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill to create pilot programs to increase milk consumption among SNAP households.

In addition to what the bill offers, the final bill does not include funding for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) pilot projects limited to “nutrient dense” foods as defined by the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans. NMPF advocated against this provision, as whole and reduced-fat (2%) milk would not have been able to be included in the pilots because the current guidelines only recommend consumption of low-fat and fat-free milk varieties.