The U.S. Senate has reached a two-year budget deal to help dairy and cotton producers, and opens the gate for the 2018 Farm Bill program fixes. In brief, the deal would provide more than $1 billion to support dairy farmers, return cotton to the commodity safety net, plus strengthen disaster assistance for livestock and specialty crop producers. Keep in mind the budget still faces House action.
“This is the support that dairy farmers across the country have been waiting for,” says U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. “I look forward to building on this progress in the 2018 Farm Bill.”
The Senate proposal announced today would bring eligible cotton acres back into the Farm Bill’s Title I. It would also fix problems with the old Margin Protection Program for dairy, provide a pathway to new, customizable insurance tools, and set the stage for additional Farm Bill improvements. Specifically, the Senate proposal would:
- Invest more than $1 billion into the dairy safety net
- Eliminate or slash premiums up to 80% for small and medium dairy farms
- Make the dairy program more responsive to drops in prices and increases in feed costs, and triggers payments more quickly
- Waive administrative fees for underserved and beginning farmers, including veterans and young people
- Provide farmers with an immediate chance to sign-up or change coverage levels for 2018
- Remove the livestock cap currently limiting producers’ participation in the Livestock Gross Margin program and improve the MPP
- Remove arbitrary limits on developing future dairy insurance tools, including customizable dairy risk management tools.
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson praises the improvement as a vital first step to assist struggling farmers in both industries. “We urge Congress to maintain these provisions through final passage. Today’s deal makes this goal more attainable through the expansion of Farm Bill baseline.”
American Farm Bureau Federation's Zippy Duvall said the budget deal passed by both the Senate and House and signed by President Trump Feb. 9 includes a number of provisions that will help America's farmers and ranchers.
“First, the measure assists farmers affected by natural disasters. Last year’s fires and hurricanes were devastating for many farmers. This disaster assistance is much needed so that affected producers can recover and continue to help feed, house, fuel and clothe our citizens. By including measures to improve policies for cotton and dairy farmers, Congress has taken important steps to address two of our biggest farm bill priorities. Also important was eliminating the cap on USDA livestock risk management tools to provide more options in the livestock sector."