Senate passes Farm Bill with dairy policy reforms

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The dairy policy reforms that have been under development for three years were included in the 2012 Farm Bill approved by the Senate Thursday by a vote of 64-35.

The National Milk Producers Federation hailed the bill’s passage as a “huge and historic step toward making a once-in-a-generation improvement in the safety net for America’s dairy farmers,” according to Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of NMPF.

“Despite a variety of political, economic and institutional challenges, the leaders of the Senate, and in particular, the leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Sens. Stabenow and Roberts, have delivered on their promise to produce better farm and food policy. We appreciate their hard work in the past months, and will work in turn to ensure the House produces a similar bill in the coming months,” Kozak said.

Kozak said the dairy title contains a better safety net for farmers in the form of the Dairy Production Margin Protection Program, which offers them a basic level of coverage against low margins, as well as a supplemental insurance plan offering higher levels of protection jointly funded by the government and participating farmers. Those farmers choosing to enroll in the margin program will also be subject to a Market Stabilization Program that addresses the imbalance between supply and demand when farm-level margins are poor.

During the consideration of more than 70 amendments to the bill, there was no effort to significantly alter the dairy title, NMPF said.  “Although it was necessary to work to defeat several unacceptable amendments, the fundamental package of dairy policy reforms supported by NMPF remained unchanged throughout the Senate debate,” said Kozak. “We are very pleased at the progress made during this vital step in the Farm Bill process, but we also know that much work lies ahead,” he added.  

With the Senate's passage of a 2012 Farm Bill, the focus now shifts to the House of Representatives, where the House Agriculture Committee is expected to begin marking up its own version July 11th.

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Batavia, NY  |  June, 22, 2012 at 11:35 AM

I think the Farm Bill should also include supply managment for corn and soybeans. Then these crop farmers can control the supply and raise their prices even higher. Let these dumb dairy farmers who support this NMPF plan deal with that!!

Mo  |  June, 22, 2012 at 11:54 PM

Ken,it sounds like you need to be a dairyman for a while,then you might be qualified to speak to the subject

Wisconsin  |  August, 02, 2012 at 07:50 AM

The sad reality of this program is that it has the potential to ruin those who enroll. If it were in place now those enrolled would be cutting production today because feed costs have reduced margins and the program centers around margin, not pounds. So you are struggling now, you must cut production for partial payment. With feed costs you can't just "store" those cows waiting for permission to produce. Once they are sold, how will you get back up to production? Ask you banker what will happen to your payments when you are told to cut... my banker's answer was stay the same. What happens if you sell assets and have loans? The banker will want the money. How do you increase production if this works?? Will your banker give that money back? Will cows be out there to buy? Will you expose you herd to bad things by buying cows? With 5% of farms producing over 50% of the milk and most of them using other means to protect margins, why would they enroll? So do the math. If 50% of the milk is enrolled and reduces production by 2% and the 50% that is not enrolled increasesproduction by 2% national output is a wash. Enrollees will then be asked to cut another 2% and unenrolled can continue adding... do see how this is a go nowhere program for enrollees?

Wisconsin  |  August, 02, 2012 at 08:04 AM

Your comments show that every producer needs to look at all aspects of joining this program-- both short and long term. What will happen to the profitability of plants if they are required to run less efficiently? Is this a way to ruin our infrastructure? Will our buyers, particularly in export markets see us as reliable and competitive with world prices? Most of the committee working on these proposals did not get their incomes from producing milk. Their salaries will stay the same regardless of whether this works or not. They do not understand all of the financial consequences for enrollees. Perhaps there should have been an amendment saying that those on the committee would have their wages cut by the same percent farmers had to cut back?

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