New Farm Bill Passed, President Expected to Sign

After more than two years of extensions and impasses, a new Farm Bill was passed by the full Congress this week. The Senate vote of 68-32 followed last week’s passage by the House on a vote of 251 to 166. President Obama has indicated he will sign the bill.

“The compromise dairy title in the Farm Bill represents historic reform of our nation’s dairy policies,” said Jerry Slominski, IDFA senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy. “This is a major step toward moving our dairy industry away from the failed agriculture policies of the past and toward policies of the future that will enable our entire industry to grow and capture new markets.”

The bill’s dairy title creates a new revenue insurance program similar to proposals in both the House and Senate passed farm bills. The bill also repeals existing underperforming dairy programs, including the Dairy Product Price Support Program, the Dairy Export Incentive Program (export subsidies), and phases out the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program as the new margin insurance program is implemented.

The bill does not include the controversial proposal called the Dairy Market Stabilization Program that would have periodically imposed limits on milk production. Although the program was included in the Senate-passed bill, it was soundly rejected by the House of Representatives when the Goodlatte-Scott amendment passed by a vote of 291-135. The Farm Bill conferees then agreed to accept the House’s position on the issue. The bill does include a new Dairy Product Purchase Program that will allow USDA to purchase dairy products for immediate distribution to low income populations when margins are very low.

“IDFA would like to commend the hard work of the conference committee and thank them for taking the middle ground on dairy policy and for reporting a bill that was ultimately passed by large margins in both the House and Senate,” said Slominski. “We would like to also thank the nearly three hundred Democrats and Republicans who voted against the DMSP but particularly Representatives Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and David Scott (D-GA), who led the successful effort to oppose the DMSP, and the Speaker of the House John Boehner who stood tall against last-minute efforts to overturn one of the most bipartisan votes in the House of Representatives this year.”