Farm Bill Expiration Spotlights Urgency to Enact Law

The 2018 Farm Bill’s lapse Sept. 30 is the first step in a cascade of expirations that includes key dairy programs ending Dec. 31, making year-end passage of a new farm bill a critical priority for dairy farmers and the cooperatives they own.

NMPF is seeking timely passage of a farm bill that:

  • Includes provisions to complement the organization’s ongoing Federal Milk Marketing Order modernization efforts;
  • Continues and updates the Dairy Margin Coverage program;
  • Maintain conservation programs with emphasis on feed and manure management;
  • Enhances trade promotion programs and enacts key protections for common food names; and
  • Continues robust spending for vital nutrition programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

While disputes regarding government funding and House leadership have held off farm-bill movement, the committees are working diligently and in a bipartisan manner to be ready to move bills across the floor at the earliest possible opportunity. Discussions continue regarding ways to meet a variety of funding requests, including on commodity and trade programs.

Passing a farm bill this year is a top priority for NMPF; still, an extension must be enacted at a minimum if a new bill is not finished. The Dairy Margin Coverage safety net lapses Dec. 31 if it is not either reauthorized or extended. Further, no action by New Year’s Day would trigger the “dairy cliff”, whereby 1940s-era permanent law would kick in and trigger very high price support levels for numerous commodities, including dairy. While the dairy cliff has always been more of a prod to congressional action than an imminent threat, due to the new rules that would need to be written and the timeline for implementation, the result would be much higher milk prices in the short term. However, NMPF remains confident that Congress will prevent these lapses, as has happened during each farm bill process previously.