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House advances 2018 Farm Bill; dairy provisions intact

Progressive Dairyman Editor Dave Natzke Published on 25 June 2018

The House version of the 2018 Farm Bill (the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018) was narrowly approved by the full House, 213-211, largely along party lines, on June 21. Dairy provisions were untouched from an earlier version of the farm bill voted down in the House in April.

The Senate’s version of the 2018 Farm Bill (the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018) is expected to be considered by the full Senate in in late June or early July.

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For the most part, dairy provisions of each bill are similar, but there are differences related to the premium structure and the flexibility to make changes in annual coverage selections under a revised and renamed Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy).

Read: What’s in it for you: Senate, House 2018 Farm Bill dairy proposals comparedProgressive Dairyman also provided an audio summary of dairy provision differences for Dairy Radio Now.

Once approved in the Senate, differences between the two bills must be reconciled by a congressional conference committee before a final version is developed. The current farm bill expires Sept. 30, 2018.

Following House passage, U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota), ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, said he looked forward to a House-Senate conference committee.

“The only upside to its passage is that we’re one step closer to conference, where it’s my hope that cooler heads can and will prevail,” Peterson said. “The Senate’s version isn’t perfect, but it avoids the hardline partisan approach that House Republicans have taken, and if it passes, I look forward to working with conferees to produce a conference report both parties can support, which is the only way to get a farm bill enacted into law.”

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Dairy groups applaud House bill

“While there are a few issues that will need to be addressed when the House reconciles its version of the farm bill with the one the Senate is considering, we are pleased that the process continues to move forward with this vote,” said Jim Mulhern president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF).

In addition to dairy policy, Mulhern said the House bill also addressed several other NMPF priorities. The conservation title will help producers access technical and financial assistance to carry out multiple conservation practices on their land and water. The bill includes an amendment to increase the emphasis on nutrient recovery technologies within the conservation title.

Under the trade title, the 2018 Farm Bill authorizes the trade promotion programs that are critical to dairy farmers and their cooperatives. The bill also features helpful provisions intended to increase fluid milk consumption, including an amendment to expand the varieties of milk offered in schools.

“Farmers need the certainty that a farm bill provides, so we are encouraged that the House took this critical step in moving the process forward,” said Brody Stapel, president of the board of directors for Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative and eastern Wisconsin dairy farmer. “Tariffs, trade negotiations, immigration and other issues of late have kept the ground shaking for many dairy farmers and others in the agricultural community. Reauthorizing a farm bill would bring much-needed stabilization.”

The head of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) said the House farm bill would allow greater access to risk management tools for dairy foods companies and farmers to address price fluctuations. The bill also would improve the safety net for dairy farmers, provide retail incentives under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to promote milk purchases for healthier diets and require the government to finalize a rule that would allow schools to serve low-fat flavored milk, according to Michael Dykes, IDFA president and CEO.  end mark

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