The federal government reopened last Friday and is fully funded through February 15. That means the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other agencies affected by the shutdown have begun efforts to resume their normal operations. Most immediately, USDA has begun to take steps to mitigate some of the hardship resulting from the shutdown, including ensuring the solvency of the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and reopening Farm Services Administration offices. With USDA back up and running, department officials can now refocus on implementing the 2018 Farm Bill, which included several provisions of interest to the dairy industry. IDFA will be closely monitoring USDA’s progress to:
- Change the Class I mover;
- Reauthorize the Dairy Forward Pricing Program;
- Craft the newly authorized SNAP fluid milk incentive program; and
- Rollout the new Dairy Margin Coverage Program.
The Class I mover change, which is subject to publication in the Federal Register, can go into effect no earlier than May 1, 2019. However, that implementation date may slip as a result of the shutdown. With regard to the Dairy Forward Pricing Program, USDA only has to publish notification of the reauthorization of the program in the Federal Register. Implementation of the Healthy Fluid Milk Incentive Projects will take longer to stand up as it does not have any mandatory money and is a new program.
Finally, the new Dairy Margin Coverage Program is not an entirely new program, but a replacement of the Margin Protection Program, which was set to take effect on January 1, 2019, but has been delayed because of the shutdown.
USDA is working diligently to meet its statutory obligations with respect to implementing the 2018 Farm Bill, and IDFA will share further updates as we receive more information on USDA’s progress.
For more information, contact Donald Grady, IDFA manager of legislative affairs, at email@example.com.