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Policy Watch: What will change in Washington in 2017, and what will not

Jim Mulhern for Progressive Dairyman Published on 24 February 2017

The inauguration of Donald Trump represents a dramatic stylistic change in the way the nation’s government will be managed.

The extent of the changes he will bring about depends to a large degree on the agenda and policies his administration decides to pursue. A universal truth of all campaigns is that the candidate’s aspirations are always subject to a reckoning with reality once the actual governing process begins.

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The fate of key ag issues such as immigration, trade and food safety in the coming months remains an open question as we wait to see the list of priority items for President Trump and the new Congress.

While the change at the top is dramatic and in sharp contrast with the outgoing administration, what hasn’t changed is the critical need for national advocacy organizations such as NMPF to engage fully with the new team in Washington to ensure that the views and concerns of dairy farmers are recognized and understood in the years ahead.

There is far too much at stake for the future of food and agriculture in general, and for dairy producers in particular, to leave this process to chance.

There are literally thousands of different associations and membership groups in and around the nation’s capital, each representing the voices of some segment of our society seeking to be heard in the political process.

NMPF itself was founded a century ago, in 1916, to ensure that farmers and their cooperatives had a prominent seat at the table in Washington – and this was back when the footprint of the federal government was considerably smaller than it is today.

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As we start 2017, and begin to interact with the new administration, we are arranging our list of priorities to pursue a clear-cut action plan on key issues.

In some cases, our agenda dovetails very nicely with the expected goals of the Trump administration, such as providing regulatory relief (e.g., repealing the controversial Waters of the U.S. rule) and lessening the tax burden on families and businesses (ending the estate tax and creating a tax credit for nutrient recovery on farms).

In other cases, we will push to ensure that dairy farmers’ concerns are heard as other high-profile issues are debated. We’ve already outlined to the president’s team our detailed concerns on the significance of exports to the U.S. dairy sector and how it will be important not to jeopardize current or future access to foreign markets.

In the same manner, as the debate unfolds on the enforcement and reform of immigration laws, we will continue communicating to the administration and Congress on the importance of an adequate workforce to ensure the production of our domestic food supply. We will continue working for changes to U.S. immigration policy to create sensible reforms in farm-related worker programs so that cows can still be milked.

Another area that is a major priority for the members of NMPF, although it’s not yet a visible priority for the new Trump administration, is repairing the dairy safety net. We’re working hard this winter analyzing several options to improve the Margin Protection Program.

Those options will be reviewed and discussed by the National Milk Board of Directors in March, giving us clearly defined objectives that will help overhaul the MPP. We will then work with key allies in Congress to advance those improvements through the House and Senate as soon as possible.

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Every signal sent so far by the still-developing Trump administration indicates that the new president will certainly bring about change in the culture and management style in Washington.

What won’t change is the need for dairy farmers to have a well-developed, recognizable pipeline to the White House, key cabinet agencies and the legislative branch of government. That’s a role in which NMPF has excelled for many years, and we will continue devoting our expertise and resources to benefit our members and the dairy community in the years ahead.  end mark

Jim Mulhern
  • Jim Mulhern

  • Chief Operating Officer
  • National Milk Producers Federation
  • Email Jim Mulhern

Board member profile

Adrian Boer

Adrian BoerAdrian Boer serves as second vice chairman of the National Milk Producers Federation and has been an NMPF board officer since 2012. In his role, he works with NMPF’s staff to provide strategic oversight and direction to the organization. Boer has served on the NMPF board since 2007 as a representative of the Northwest Dairy Association.

Boer has worked in the dairy business for more than 50 years and manages a herd of 5,500 cows in Jerome, Idaho, with his family. Boer has also served on the Northwest Dairy Association/Darigold board of directors since 1991. In addition, Boer has served on the boards of United Dairymen of Idaho, the Idaho Dairymen’s Association and Milk Producers of Idaho.

The following update is provided by National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), based in Arlington, Virginia. NMPF develops and carries out policies that advance the well-being of dairy producers and the cooperatives they own. The members of NMPF’s cooperatives produce the majority of the U.S. milk supply, making the federation a prominent voice of dairy producers on Capitol Hill and with government agencies.

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