Funding for Dairy

Congress is tasked each year with allocating discretionary funds, known as appropriations, for federal agency activities, including some national defense, education and food safety efforts, that are not mandatory. In recent years, appropriations have accounted for approximately 35% to 39% of total federal spending, according to the Congressional Research Service. The U.S. fiscal year budget for 2019 included adjustments that are small in comparison to the more than $1 trillion federal discretionary budget. Yet, for many American job creators, like those in the dairy industry, these changes will have a big impact. The FY2020 budget allows similar opportunities for growth.

Our Position

The annual Agriculture Appropriations legislation provides funding for food and nutrition programs within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. IDFA believes that modest federal investments can help the dairy industry innovate, compete and add more jobs. IDFA has advocated for three priorities, which are included in the proposed legislation:

Deeper Dive


SNAP Incentive Program

The most recent spending bill includes $1 million for a SNAP milk incentive program, called the Healthy Fluid Milk Incentives Projects. The program allows participants to purchase more milk with SNAP benefits, helping them to make nutritious choices and support a healthy lifestyle. Read more.

Standards of Identity

The bill provides FDA $2 million to $3 million to speed the process for modernizing outdated food standards of identity. This amount builds on the $2 million in funding for modernization that the agency received in the FY2019 budget. IDFA continues to call for updates because the current standards don’t allow companies to use new technologies, ingredients or processes for making dairy foods. Read more.

Ice Cream Research

Ice cream manufacturers discard millions of pounds of ice cream co-product every year because no technologies exist to recover the fat, protein, carbohydrates and water that could be used. IDFA believes the companies could save and reinvest millions of dollars with the development of novel solutions and has asked for federal research to help find a solution. The FY2019 Agriculture Appropriations bill provided $1.5 million for ARS to research ways to recover and use the co-products, and the FY2020 bill has continued the $1.5 million in funding.

Modest Investments Make a Difference

It’s difficult to get an increase in spending for priorities in the Agriculture Appropriations legislation because the budget for this bill has been tight for many years. IDFA’s relationships with key dairy champions on the Hill and persistent member engagement were the deciding factors in these efforts. The funding and its potential impact demonstrate how the government and modest federal investments can help the dairy industry innovate, compete and boost the American with more jobs and investment. 

For more information, contact Donald Grady, IDFA director, legislative affairs, at

Staff Contact

Donald Grady

Director, Legislative Affairs