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DMC caps, spending on domestic nutrition and trade programs highlight farm bill listening sessions

Progressive Dairy Editor Dave Natzke Published on 01 August 2022

If comments during an initial round of listening sessions are an indicator, risk management and additional support for both domestic nutrition and dairy trade programs will be points of dairy emphasis during development of the 2023 Farm Bill.

The House Ag Committee wrapped up several listening sessions during late June and July, meeting in Arizona, California, Washington and Minnesota. (Read: House ag committee farm bill listening sessions hitting major dairy states.)

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As in earlier sessions, dairy producers and co-op members presented information during sessions held July 22 and July 25 in Washington and Minnesota, respectively. Many of the dairy comments were presented by members of co-ops associated with the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), including Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI), Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) and Northwest Dairy Association (NDA).

In the Washington session, dairy farmer and NDA member-owner Jeremy Visser of Stanwood, Washington, praised the availability of the Dairy Revenue Protection (Dairy-RP) program. That program benefits dairy producers as a risk management tool because it is size neutral, he said. While the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program has been useful, production caps have limited producers of all herd sizes to take advantage of it.

Those comments were echoed by Jim Werkhoven of Monroe, Washington, who said DMC production caps were problematic for dairy producers in Washington and the West. He also called for additional federal funding for trade promotion programs like the Market Access Program, as well as robust funding for domestic nutrition program such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

In the Minnesota session, Steve Schlangen, chair of AMPI and an NMPF executive committee member, emphasized the value of the DMC program. He urged the committee to strengthen the program by carrying the Supplemental DMC update over into the next farm bill to compensate farmers for modest increases in production since the program formula was created in 2014. He also suggested raising the top DMC coverage level from $9.50 to $10 per hundredweight (cwt) to help producers cover higher production costs.

Schlangen stressed that while Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) reforms should be addressed through a USDA hearing process, congressional authorization to allow the USDA to conduct mandatory manufacturing cost studies was necessary to establish make allowance formula adjustments. Finally, he expressed the importance of dairy in domestic feeding programs and suggested expanding dairy product availability.

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He was joined by Charles Krause, a DFA farmer from Buffalo, Minnesota, and KC Graner, a Land O’Lakes ag retail member-owner from Truman, Minnesota, who among other topics supported the Dairy Donation Program to connect dairy products to food insecure families and additional funding and policies to encourage and scale climate-smart ag practices.

Growth management plan urged

Debra Mills, Goodhue County dairy farmer and member of the Farmers Union and National Dairy Producers Organization, urged support of the Dairy Revitalization Program as a growth management strategy to prevent oversupply of milk and stabilize milk prices.

Read: Dairy farmers head to D.C. to push for Dairy Revitalization Plan.

Previous House Ag Committee listening sessions were held June 25 in Arizona, and July 7 in California.

In addition to the 2023 Farm Bill listening sessions, NMPF held a webinar, July 26, to provide further updates to help members understand the issues under consideration as part of the FMMO’s modernization effort.

With no additional listening sessions currently scheduled, the House Ag Committee has created an online comment form for dairy producers and others to provide comments as development of the 2023 Farm Bill continues.  end mark

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Dave Natzke
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