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NMPF, IDFA: Senate Ag Committee Farm Bill Enhances Dairy
USAgNet - 06/14/2018

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) Wednesday in separate announcements commended the leadership of the Senate Agriculture Committee for crafting a bipartisan Farm Bill that contains beneficial provisions for America's dairy farmers. Following Wednesday's passage by a margin of 20-1, the bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

The Senate Farm Bill contains enhancements to the dairy Margin Protection Program sought by NMPF, including improved coverage levels and greater program flexibility. The measure raises the maximum covered margin to $9/cwt. and adjusts the minimum percentage of milk that can be insured. It also includes an important agreement reached between NMPF and the IDFA on price risk management.

"Managing price risk and increasing consumption are the dairy industry's key priorities, and we commend Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., for drafting a farm bill that will provide increased health benefits to consumers, while empowering dairy processors and producers to help fuel the American economy," said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO.

NMPF applauded Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) for their leadership in finalizing the measure before the current Farm Bill expires on Sept. 30. Sen. Stabenow helped secure $100 million in additional funding for the dairy title budget baseline.

"The leadership of Senators Roberts and Stabenow has led to the creation of a bipartisan Farm Bill that has important provisions for dairy farmers during this prolonged period of low milk prices," said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. "With the House also set to move on its version of the Farm Bill later this month, we are hoping a final measure will pass Congress by this fall."

The Senate bill also contains conservation provisions that will help producers access technical and financial assistance to carry out conservation practices on operations. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) added a helpful amendment to the bill to give dairy farmers greater flexibility in meeting their goals under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

Under the trade title, the Farm Bill re-authorizes the trade promotion programs that are critical to dairy farmers and their cooperatives. Mulhern said NMPF also appreciates the successful efforts of Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Bob Casey (D-PA) to include provisions in the bill that promote the consumption of fluid milk.

The committee included an IDFA-endorsed proposal from Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, that would encourage SNAP participants to buy more milk and gain nutrients essential to good health that many Americans are missing in their diets.

"IDFA worked closely with Sen. Ernst and her staff to develop the proposal for a SNAP pilot program that will encourage Americans receiving food assistance to protect their health and strengthen their bones and muscles," Dykes said. "Only one in 10 Americans consumes the number of servings of dairy a day recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This proposal takes a crucial step toward narrowing this gap, especially for low-income families with children."

IDFA also welcomed the committee's decision to include a new Milk Donation Program. The Milk Donation Program would allow dairy processors and producers to team with charitable organizations to donate milk to people in need and to reduce food waste.

"U.S. dairy products companies support nearly 3 million jobs, generate more than $39 billion in direct wages and have an overall economic impact of more than $628 billion. Our powerful engine for American jobs and economic stimulus will only continue to contribute and grow under this farm bill," Dykes said.

IDFA represents the nation's dairy manufacturing and marketing industry, which supports nearly 3 million jobs, generates more than $39 billion in direct wages and has an overall economic impact of more than $628 billion. IDFA is the umbrella organization for the Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), the National Cheese Institute (NCI) and the International Ice Cream Association (IICA). IDFA's members range from large multinational organizations to single-plant companies. Together they represent more than 85 percent of the milk, cultured products, cheese, ice cream and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States and sold throughout the world. The diverse membership includes numerous food retailers, suppliers and companies that offer infant formula and a wide variety of milk-derived ingredients.

NMPF, established in 1916, 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 NMPF the voice of dairy producers on Capitol Hill and with government agencies.

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