Congress returned to Washington this week with an ambitious legislative agenda for 2018. Near the top of the to-do list will be passing a new farm bill before the current one expires at the end of September.
“By way of perspective, the last time Congress passed a farm bill on time was in 1990, so it’s possible that the current farm bill could be extended beyond September if Congress is unable to pass another five-year farm bill before then,” said Dave Carlin, IDFA senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy.
Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), chair of the House Committee on Agriculture, told IDFA board members in December that he plans to unveil his farm bill proposal in mid-January or February. A committee mark-up and consideration of the bill on the House floor will likely follow in relatively short order. The Senate Agriculture Committee plans to introduce its own farm bill sometime this winter.
Even before the farm bill debate officially begins, Congress is considering a disaster relief bill, H.R. 4667, that includes provisions affecting the farm bill’s current cotton and dairy programs. Specifically, the legislation would make cotton growers eligible for the Price Loss Coverage program and increase funding limits for the Livestock Gross Margin-Dairy (LGM-Dairy) program, which IDFA endorsed last year. The House passed the disaster relief bill last month, and the Senate is expected to take it up in January.
IDFA has three policy priorities that it will seek to include in the next farm bill:
- Change the Class I mover to allow greater price risk management tools for all fluid market participants (processors, cooperatives and dairy producers) and extend the current Dairy Forward Pricing Program for Class II, III and IV milk (See “NMPF [National Milk Producers Federation] and IDFA Dairy Price Risk Management Recommendations for the Upcoming Farm Bill” for more details);
- Establish a purchase incentive program for dairy products within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to encourage program participants to consume at least the minimum number of dairy servings a day recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans; and
- Support efforts to improve the existing Margin Protection Program and the LGM-Dairy program to provide dairy producers with better access to meaningful, non-market- distorting risk management tools.
For more information, contact Carlin at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Tony Eberhard, IDFA vice president of legislative affairs, at email@example.com.