NMPF’s Bjerga on H5N1, Farm Bill

NMPF Executive Vice President for Communications & Industry Relations Alan Bjerga speaks on RFD-TV about dairy farmer challenges and their broader relationship with agriculture, ranging from H5N1 in dairy cattle to discussions of the 2024 Farm Bill in Washington. Success across all fronts will require communication and collaboration across agricultural sectors, he said. Meanwhile, NMPF is optimistic regarding the future of milk pricing, with a USDA plan on Federal Milk Marketing Order modernization expected within the next few weeks.



NMPF’s Galen Explains Latest Development in Farm Bill Process in Congress

NMPF’s Senior Vice President Chris Galen explains for listeners of Dairy Radio Now how the House and Senate agriculture committees are each now seeking to advance their respective versions of the 2024 Farm Bill.  Galen describes how the measures may affect dairy policy, and what the next steps are for lawmakers this spring on Capitol Hill.


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.


NMPF’s Bjerga on New Pandemic Aid

NMPF Senior Vice President of Communications Alan Bjerga said $100 million on new assistance to dairy farmers under the Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program will better aid midsize and larger dairies that received inadequate support in an earlier round of aid. Bjerga also discusses mental health stresses among farmers, and a recent Dairy Defined Podcast that discusses ways they can get help. Bjerga was interviewed on RFD-TV.

Congress’s Bumpy Start Could Smooth Farm Bill

By Paul Bleiberg, Senior Vice President, Government Relations, NMPF.

The beginning of each new Congress is marked by a period of temporary excitement, borne of optimism that legislators will put aside political differences to finally enact solutions to problems affecting Americans from all walks of life.

The opening of the 118th Congress earlier this month presented a different picture. While the usual political disputes between the two parties remain, the first days of this congress featured not a contrast between Republicans and Democrats, but instead disagreements among Republicans about who to elect as Speaker of the House and, more fundamentally, how to govern the institution for the next two years.

Ultimately, after four days of intense negotiation that occurred both in private meetings and in public on the House floor, Republicans voted to elect California Representative Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House for the 118th Congress. Six Republican members who had voted against McCarthy on previous ballots chose to vote ‘present’ on the final ballot, clearing a path for McCarthy to claim the Speaker’s gavel.

Personalities certainly played a role in this conflict and its resolution, but so did significant discussions about the ability of individual members to influence the legislation that advances in the House. Part of the agreement that got McCarthy elected speaker allows members to offer many amendments to bills that reach the floor, a departure from recent practice. Amendment debate and votes can sometimes smooth over bumps in the road to a bill’s passage, but they also can create new obstacles.

This may seem like ‘inside baseball,’ but it is of great importance to one piece of legislation expected to advance this year: the 2023 Farm Bill. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) kicked off that process with a recent listening session at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg. Many hearings are expected this spring in both the House and Senate agriculture committees.

Soon after that, the work of drafting the bill will begin. Members on and off the committees will seek to have their say. Yes, this means Congress may take votes on a wide range of amendments to the farm bill, good and bad. Hopefully, the amendment process will help to expand the bipartisan, bicameral consensus that will be needed to enact a farm bill, and not detract from it. But dairy will need to do its part to make sure the process doesn’t work to the detriment of its interests. That means we’ll be striving to maintain the Dairy Margin Coverage program and separate risk management tools, with tweaks as needed, and to ensure dairy’s needs are met in other key titles like conservation, trade, and nutrition.

Dairy will be engaging closely to help guide Congress to that outcome. The beginning of the new Congress wasn’t the most auspicious in terms of unity. Even so, policy progress is always possible, and on the farm bill and other issues, we will work with both sides of the aisle – and even both sides of one aisle should there be conflicts – to get things done.

This column originally appeared in Hoard’s Dairyman Intel on Jan. 23, 2023.

NMPF’s Bjerga on How DMC Fights Inflation


NMPF Senior Vice President of Communications Alan Bjerga explains how the Dairy Margin Coverage Program helps protect farmers against rising feed-cost inflation by factoring in higher expenses even as milk prices reach records. Bjerga also talks about the potential market effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and spells his last name for listeners in an interview with WEKZ radio, Janesville, Wisconsin.

NMPF’s Mulhern Speaks at Annual Meeting


NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern speaks at the organization’s annual meeting in Las Vegas, NV on Nov. 16.

NMPF’s Bjerga on Food Box, Vaccinations, and Butter’s Bright Future

NMPF Senior Vice President of Communications Alan Bjerga discusses the rise and fall of the Farmers to Families Food Box program and the potential for improved food-assistance programs, along with the need for stepped-up rural COVID vaccinations and how the pandemic could brighten the long-term outlook for butter. Discussion on WEKZ radio, Janesville, Wisconsin.