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In Focus: Mapping the 2017-2018 landscape of dairy policy

Progressive Dairyman Editor Dave Natzke Published on 05 May 2017

Although the 2014 Farm Bill doesn’t expire until Sept. 30, 2018, the 115th Congress has already begun work on its reauthorization. A piece of the 2018 Farm Bill likely to most directly impact the landscape for dairy producers is the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy), also set to expire in September 2018.

House and Senate Ag committees manage the process for reauthorizing a federal farm bill. Other policymakers directly impacting dairy farmers include members of House and Senate Appropriations committees, who oversee discretionary federal spending, and members of House and Senate Judiciary committees, subcommittees of which have oversight on immigration policies.



Finally, the Congressional Dairy Farmer Caucus includes a group of nearly 80 members of the House who seek policy consensus on dairy issues.

To help readers identify and contact members of Congress, Progressive Dairyman has listed the partisan and geographic makeup of major congressional committees and panels.115th Congress the latest list of elected officials

Click here or on the image above to view it at full size in a new window.

House Ag Committee

The dairy industry has strong representation on the House Ag Committee: 28 of 46 House members named to the committee come from the 23 “major” dairy states. However, 10 major dairy states have no members on the House Ag Committee: Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

As the majority party, Republicans have 26 total seats, and the committee is again being chaired by Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-Texas), with Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pennsylvania) his vice chairman.


As the minority party, 20 Democrats serve on the House ag committee, with Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota) serving as ranking member.

Senate Ag Committee

As the majority party, Republicans have 11 total seats on the committee, led by chairman Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas). The committee’s 10 Democrats are led by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), ranking member.

Dairy interests should be well represented, with four Republicans and eight Democrats residing in 11 of the 23 major dairy states.

Judiciary committees

After the ag committees, perhaps no other lawmakers will have more influence over the future direction of dairy production than the members of House and Senate Judiciary committees, whose policy oversight includes immigration.

In the House, the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security is chaired by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) and includes eight Republicans, seven of which represent dairy states: Colorado, Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin.

The subcommittee’s minority leader is Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-California), and four of the five Democrats are from dairy states (California, Illinois, Texas and Washington).


In the Senate, Judiciary Committee majority leader Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-California) not only serve as ex-officio members of all subcommittees, but also sit on the Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration.

That subcommittee is chaired by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and includes eight Republicans, six of which represent dairy states: Arizona, Idaho, Iowa, Texas (2) and Utah. The subcommittee’s minority leader is Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), and four of the seven Democrats are from dairy states (California, Illinois, Minnesota and Vermont).

Ag Appropriations subcommittees

Both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees have Agriculture subcommittees.

In the House, Republicans have seven total seats, with four other seats filled by Democrats. The subcommittee is led by chairman Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Alabama) and ranking member Rep. Sam Farr (D-California). Five members of the subcommittee are from dairy states.

Congressional Dairy Farmer Caucus

The 78-member Congressional Dairy Farmer Caucus is a bipartisan group dedicated to educating other members of Congress and building political consensus on the importance of the dairy industry to the nation’s economy. While it’s called the “Congressional Dairy Farmer Caucus,” it is made up of only House members.  end mark

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