The U.S. Senate Tuesday afternoon passed a federal Farm Bill, 68-32. The bill now heads to President Obama, who is expected to sign it.
The Detroit Free Press reported Obama could sign the bill on Friday, Feb. 7, during a visit to Michigan State University. Michigan is the home state of Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chair of the Senate Ag Committee.
Senate Democrats overwhelmingly approved the bill, 44-9. However, Republicans were almost evenly split, 22 for and 23 against. Among the 23 “major dairy states,” 34 of 46 senators voted to approve the measure. To see how you senator voted, click here.
Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), noted the battle of the Farm Bill, and especially the dairy title, has been long.
“It has been a long and torturous road toward the creation of a better safety net for dairy farmers, but with today’s vote in the Senate to approve the farm bill, coupled with last week’s House vote, that five-year journey has reached its end,” Mulhern said.
“We didn’t wind up precisely where we wanted in terms of the dairy program, but the milk glass is more than half-full,” he continued. “The new farm bill replaces three outmoded programs intended to help farmers – but that often failed in that effort. In their place is a new, more modern, and more comprehensive margin protection program offering dairy producers a far better and more effective safety net. Because it is designed to protect against periods of both low milk prices as well as high feed costs, margin insurance is a better risk management tool to help farmers deal with the global volatility in commodity prices in the 21st century.
Mulhern thanked Sens. Debbie Stabenow, Thad Cochran and Patrick Leahy, and Reps. Frank Lucas and Collin Peterson, for their efforts to fashion this new dairy policy.
“I also want to express my appreciation to all of the farmers, cooperatives, and farm organizations that have helped throughout this long process,” Mulhern said. “The members of NMPF have worked tirelessly since 2009 to build a new and better dairy program. The farm bill’s margin protection program is a tribute to their dedication and commitment.”
U.S. dairy producers won't likely feel the impact of the Farm Bill – at least on dairy policy – until later this fall. Under the bill, USDA must establish a Margin Protection Program for dairy producers no later than Sept. 1, 2014. The Dairy Title of the Agricultural Act of 2014 was outlined previously by Dairy Herd Management.