House Ag Committee Tackles Farm Bill; NMPF’s Bleiberg Outlines What’s in It

NMPF’s Executive Vice President Paul Bleiberg explains for listeners of Dairy Radio Now what’s in the Farm Bill draft for dairy farmers as the House Agriculture Committee votes on May 23. Bleiberg describes how the measure handles the economic safety net for farmers, and assesses the prospects for the farm bill measure after this spring on Capitol Hill.

FARM Biosecurity Program Outlines HPAI Prevention and Security

The National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management, or FARM Program, is the U.S. dairy’s on-farm national social responsibility program. One of its important parts is on-farm biosecurity. Emily Yeiser-Stepp, executive director of the National Dairy FARM Program, says biosecurity is more important than ever after the recent outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in dairy cattle herds

NMPF’s Galen Highlights Key 2023 Policy Achievements for Dairy Community As Christmas Approaches


NMPF’s Chris Galen offers a Christmas-themed list of for listeners of Dairy Radio Now on several major achievements for dairy farmers:  updating the milk pricing system, improving the Farm Bill, and expanding milk options in schools.  He describes how NMPF successfully created momentum in the House of Representatives for a bill that would expand students’ milk options in schools.

NMPF’s Galen on Farm Bill Progress

NMPF Senior Vice President Chris Galen discusses the state of play in the upcoming farm bill on Dairy Radio Now.  Current spending debates are slowing progress on the five-year reauthorization of USDA programs, which include nutrition assistance and commodity payments. The current law expires Sept. 30 — because many commodity programs, including dairy, run on a calendar-year basis, any threat of near-term disruption is limited, Galen said.

NMPF Board of Directors Approves Comprehensive Farm Bill Recommendations

NMPF’s Board of Directors approved June 7 a suite of farm bill policy priorities covering the commodities, conservation, trade, and nutrition titles, working to enhance federal support for producers and expand access to nutritious dairy products for consumers at home and abroad.

With the current farm bill set to expire Sept. 30, Congress is working to enact a new bipartisan five-year farm bill.  NMPF’s recommendations will aid in enacting an on-time farm bill that provides dairy producers the certainty they need as they manage their risks and resources while seeking market opportunities at home and abroad.

“The farm bill is crucial both to dairy farmers seeking to effectively manage their risk and to the consumers who benefit from the nutritious products dairy farmers work every to provide,” said Randy Mooney, chairman of NMPF’s board and a dairy farmer outside Rogersville, MO. “We stand ready to work with lawmakers as they craft this complex, extremely important legislation that touches everyone.”

In the Commodities title:

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’s board voted to support continuing the Dairy Margin Coverage safety net while updating the program’s production history calculation.  The board also voted to prioritize improving the Livestock Gross Margin-Dairy and Dairy-Revenue Protection programs should new funding become available.

The board also voted to seek farm bill language to direct USDA to conduct mandatory plant cost studies every two years to provide better data to inform future make allowance reviews. This would complement the near-term make allowance update NMPF is pursuing through its Federal Milk Marketing Order initiative via the USDA hearing process announced last week. Similarly, the board also voted to pursue restoring the previous “higher of” Class I mover in the most expeditious manner possible, either administratively via the FMMO process or legislatively through the farm bill, in which the mover was last changed in 2018.

In the Conservation title:

NMPF is advocating for policies that better position the dairy industry to meet its voluntary, producer-led goal of becoming greenhouse gas neutral or better by 2050. NMPF’s board voted to support maintaining robust funding for voluntary conservation programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program that supports dairy farmers in their ongoing land and water resource management efforts, with additional emphasis on feed and manure management both of which are major areas of opportunity in sustainability. The board also voted to seek relief from program payment limitations that prevent the family farmers that produce most of the nation’s milk supply from fully using these programs.

In the Trade title:

NMPF will support policies recognizing the growing importance of trade for U.S. dairy, with exports accounting for one-sixth milk of all U.S. milk production, a share expected to grow. NMPF’s board voted to support enhancing funding for trade promotion programs like the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development program, which promote American-made dairy and agriculture products that compete with heavily subsidized foreign products and return well over $20 in export revenue for every dollar invested.

The NMPF board also voted to seek language to protect common food names, as embodied in the bipartisan, bicameral SAVE Act that would establish an official list of common food and beverage names and direct USDA and the U.S. Trade Representative to prioritize this issue in international trade negotiations.

In the Nutrition title:

NMPF will support policies that reflect dairy’s role as an excellent source of 13 essential nutrients, some of which are under-consumed, according to the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is vital to linking the food we produce as farmers to families across the country facing difficult circumstances.  NMPF’s board voted to support the enhancement of federal nutrition programs to provide nutritious dairy products to beneficiaries.  NMPF also supports the bipartisan Dairy Nutrition Incentives Program introduced in the Senate to encourage SNAP participants to choose healthful dairy products at the grocery store.


Be It Bank or Beverage, Choices Matter

While we’ll leave fuller explanations for the turmoil financial institutions such as Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank and others to those with more expertise, it’s clear that good-old-fashioned poor choices played a role.

It turns out that betting heavily on low-interest government debt when that government is hiking interest rates to fight inflation might not work well; nor is overloading your portfolio on cryptocurrency. And given that propensity for bad bets, it isn’t shocking to see what Silicon Valley Bank had to say about plant and cell-based meat-and-dairy alternatives in this 2019 analysts’ report, which mixed tired tropes of the ills of animal agriculture with boosterism for the future of dairy ripoffs like Ripple and Perfect Day as well as alt-protein companies like Beyond Meat, which “has wowed consumers with its realistic taste and meat-like appearance,” according to the authors.

“At Silicon Valley Bank, we embrace the future of the food industry. We have deep expertise working with foodtech companies and strong ties to the Silicon Valley ecosystem,” the analysts wrote. “If you are working in this space and would like to learn more about SVB’s role, please reach out to chat.”

Of course, we know that that turned out. Beyond Meat stock is now considered a “recipe for disaster” due in part because of its wildly self-inflated expectations. Plant-based beverage sales fell last year. And Silicon Valley Bank? It’s now part of First Citizens Bank & Trust Company after being unloaded by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which took over the institution upon Silicon Valley’s failure.

So yes, perhaps it’s time to “reach out to chat.” About how venture capital investors have thrown good money after bad at products of questionable quality that are more about marketing pitch than actual market need. About how banks seeking a quick buck put depositors at risk with poor investment choices, which include those products. And about how high-quality, proven nutrition, with a product that’s been in demand for millennia, might, unsurprisingly, be the best investment anyone could make – both for consumers and for investors who’d happily have a little less drama in their financial futures.

Dairy, like every other industry, has its challenges, which it’s dedicated to meet. But with record exports and the highest U.S. per-capita consumption since 1959, it’s a safe bet to say its future is bright. That’s what you get with real quality.

You can bank on it.

NMPF Lauds Bipartisan Ag Climate Measures in Appropriations Package

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) today commended Congress for including the Growing Climate Solutions Act and the SUSTAINS Act in its final fiscal year 2023 budget package. These measures will help dairy farmers seek additional sustainability opportunities as they work to fulfill the dairy sector’s voluntary, producer-led goal of becoming greenhouse gas neutral or better by 2050.

“Environmental markets and conservation programs have the potential to meaningfully assist dairy producers as they work to meet their 2050 environmental stewardship goals,” said NMPF president and CEO Jim Mulhern. “The Growing Climate Solutions Act and the SUSTAINS Act will strengthen these important tools.”

The Growing Climate Solutions Act, authored by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, and Senator Mike Braun, R-IN, passed the Senate last June on a bipartisan vote of 92-8. The legislation would enable USDA to register technical service providers that help farmers implement stewardship practices that can generate credits on environmental markets. In turn, producers will be better positioned to participate in these important markets. Reps. Abigail Spanberger, D-VA, and Don Bacon, R-NE, have introduced companion legislation in the House.

The SUSTAINS Act, authored by House Agriculture Committee Chairman-elect Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, R-PA, passed the House Agriculture Committee in May on a bipartisan voice vote. The measure would allow private sector funds to supplement existing funding for farm bill conservation programs, which are continuously oversubscribed. The bill is an innovative approach to boosting funding for USDA conservation programs, which provide important technical assistance to dairy farmers for a variety of stewardship practices.

In addition to the sponsors of both bills, committee leaders Rep. David Scott, D-GA, and Sen. John Boozman, R-AR, also played important roles in finalizing the bipartisan package.

“We commend the leaders of the Agriculture Committees – Senators Debbie Stabenow and John Boozman and Reps. David Scott and GT Thompson – for working together to fashion this bipartisan agreement on agricultural climate legislation,” Mulhern said. “We look forward to working with them and their colleagues to build on this progress in the new year.”

NMPF’s Galen on DMC Signup


NMPF Senior Vice President Chris Galen reminds farmers of the upcoming Dec. 9 deadline to enroll in the Dairy Margin Coverage Program in an interview with the National Association of Farm Broadcasters. This year’s payments under the program — the result of high input costs eating into record prices — show the wisdom of DMC’s design, Galen said.  “As we head into 2023, we know that milk prices aren’t going to be as strong,” Galen said. “We know that input costs are still going to be significant.”

NMPF’s Bjerga on the Congressional Elections and Dairy’s Challenges


NMPF Senior Vice President of Communications Alan Bjerga details some of the policy and marketplace challenges U.S. dairy is striving to meet, regardless of the cloudy outcomes of Tuesday’s congressional elections, in an interview with RFD-TV. Opportunities to grow markets via sustainability, an adequate safety net in the upcoming farm bill, and sensible industry regulation all loom in 2023, with dairy well-positioned to make progress.

NMPF Welcomes New Member Co-op, Board Members

NMPF welcomed a new member during its Denver meeting last week as the Board of Directors accepted the membership application of Burnett Dairy Cooperative. Burnett Dairy Cooperative is based near Grantsburg, Wisconsin, and was founded in 1896.

The Board also welcomed three new members: Kevin Ellis – Upstate Niagara Cooperative; Jeff Sims – Lone Star Milk Producers and; Cory Vanderham – California Dairies Inc. The organization gave two service recognition awards last week, awarding Honorary Director for Life status to Paul Percy of Agri-Mark and Larry Webster of Upstate Niagara Cooperative.

Live, from the Dairy Bar, it’s NMPF!


NMPF Senior Vice President of Communications Alan Bjerga gives an impromptu tour of the Dairy Bar and the Joint Annual Meeting in Denver. From delicious products to critical information, the Dairy Bar has it all — and the meeting itself resulted in gains for dairy producers, as detailed in this interview with RFD-TV.

Reaching Out: Dairy’s Voice Heard as Farm Bill Groundwork Laid


  • Coordinated farmer appearances at numerous congressional policy panels
  • Placed farmer perspectives in mass-market media
  • Developed dairy’s next-generation leadership through timely webinars

Farm Bill hearings and listening sessions held by the House and Senate Agriculture Committees this spring and summer provided another opportunity for NMPF to proactively engage its members of all sizes, and across the country, to provide critical input to Congress as they prepare to craft a new farm bill next year.

NMPF recruited and worked closely with several farmer leaders, including Melvin Medeiros, a Dairy Farmers of America producer from California and NMPF Executive Committee member; Ashley Kennedy, a Michigan Milk Producers Association producer from Michigan; and Lolly Lesher, a DFA producer from Pennsylvania and NMPF Dairy Voice Network member on their testimony before Congress in favor of maintaining and strengthening the Dairy Margin Coverage program and providing additional resources to help farmers enhance their ongoing environmental stewardship efforts.

More informally, NMPF also worked with its member cooperatives to secure farmer participation at a variety of listening sessions held in the field. The events featured multiple members of NMPF’s farmer leadership, including Steve Schlangen, Chairman of Associated Milk Producers Inc. and an NMPF Executive Committee member from Minnesota; Joey Fernandes, a Land O’Lakes producer from California and NMPF board member; Jim Boyle, a United Dairymen of Arizona member from Arizona and Chairman of NMPF’s Immigration Task Force; and Medeiros. Other producer witnesses included Jeremy Visser, a Northwest Dairy Association/Darigold board member from Washington; Jim Werkhoven, an NDA/Darigold member from Washington and former NMPF board member; Charles Krause, a DFA member from Minnesota; and KC Graner, an LOL ag retail member-owner from Minnesota.

While NMPF-affiliated farmer participants hailed from different parts of the country, NMPF helped hone a cohesive message nationwide, focused on continuing and building on current dairy policy and making additional, needed investments in conservation, trade, and nutrition programs.

NMPF also communicated dairy’s policy message through targeted efforts to place farmers voices in mass-market media, allowing the industry’s best messengers to break through media noise. Brittany Nickerson-Thurlow, Medeiros, and Josh Gladden, all members of the NMPF Dairy Voice Network created last year, each bylined op-ed articles on dairy’s policy needs in daily newspapers in Florida, California and Arizona, resulting in follow-up interviews from the Wall Street Journal, BBC and other globally known outlets.

At the same time, NMPF communications staff helped develop and serve the next generation of dairy-farmer leadership through its Young Cooperators (YC) program. The YC Program is providing virtual and in-person educational and leadership development opportunities every month this year, covering a variety of topics of importance to young and beginning farmers including farm safety, employee onboarding, transition planning and consumer perspectives on dairy cattle welfare.

YCs also met this year in Washington, D.C. for the first time since 2019 for the program’s capstone Dairy Policy and Legislative Forum. 45 dairy farmers from 15 states and representing ten member cooperatives participated in the two-day event, which included discussions about political engagement and dairy policy issues, along with training on how to be an effective advocate and spokesperson for dairy. YCs then headed to Capitol Hill to speak with members of Congress and their staffs about NMPF priorities.