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September Brings Deadlines, Determination and Dealmaking in Congress

Sep 05, 2018

Congress arrived back in Washington this week with a checklist of legislative business to attend to before the October congressional recess and the midterm elections.

The IDFA legislative team remains in constant communication with key lawmakers and their staff, and is actively working to ensure Congress makes progress on policies important to dairy, including:

  • Passing a farm bill that includes dairy priorities

 Congressional negotiators are working to reconcile differences between the House and Senate-passed farm bills through conference committee meetings, both public and private. The current farm bill is set to expire on September 30 of this year. IDFA has stressed that the bill should include better risk management tools that would benefit dairy processors and producers alike, as well as establish voluntary incentives to encourage Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants to consume more milk and dairy foods to improve their overall nutrition, especially for children.

  • Passing an industry-supported natural cheese bill

The pending legislation would ensure that the label “natural cheese” retains its historic meaning and helps consumers identify “natural cheese” from “process cheese.” IDFA has told lawmakers that U.S. cheese companies have been using the term “natural cheese” for decades, and that enacting a bill is necessary to help prevent consumer confusion.

  • Passing a 2019 appropriations bill that includes increased funding for FDA work on food issues and research money to help find solutions for ice cream co-product

IDFA has worked closely with Congress to develop proposals that would fund research to help companies find sustainable solutions for ice cream co-product as well as increase support for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) efforts to modernize standards of identity. The Senate passed its appropriations bill to fund the U.S. Department of Agriculture and FDA earlier this summer. The House has yet to pass its agriculture appropriations funding bill, although some progress has been made in committee.

While IDFA hopes to achieve these policy goals before the end of September, it is likely that Congress will return to Washington after the November midterm elections to conclude its business for the year, so further work on these priority issues could continue at that time.   

Members with questions may contact Dave Carlin, senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy, at dcarlin@idfa.org.

 
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