Timing For New Farm Bill Still Up In The Air

(May 3, 2012) It has been a whirlwind in Washington lately in regards to marking up a Farm Bill to include dairy policy. National Milk’s Chris Galen said NMPF has been working on the program for three years

“We’re very happy that the policy provisions of the Dairy Security Act modeled after National Milk’s ‘Foundation For The Future’ were included in the senate bill that passed in a 16-5 vote.”

The next step is for the full 100-member senate to consider what the Senate Ag Committee approved last week.

The timing on that is still to be determined although Galen expects Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) will negotiate with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to get some time in May. Galen said if things go past Memorial Day and into June and July, then it gets more dicey,

“We’re hoping that the full senate will work on and improve the full Farm Bill yet in May,” he said. Meanwhile the House Subcommittee on Livestock and Dairy held a hearing last week.

“Looking specifically at dairy policy, specifically at the National Milk Dairy Security Act proposal and I think it was fairly well received,” Galen said. “We didn’t have 100 percent consensus, but you never do for anything that comes out of congress.”

Galen believes NMPF made a very strong case for why the industry needs to have a better safety net for dairy farmers, adding there really is no other alternative plan.

The House Agriculture Committee will not act on its version of the Farm Bill until we know what happens in the senate.

“That’s why so much is riding on the next steps in the senate,” he said. “Because it looks like the house is going to wait until something happens on the other side of Capital Hill.”

“If we can get both chambers to pass a Farm Bill by the summer, I think it really increases the odds that we’ll get a new Farm Bill, if not by the end of September then perhaps by the end of 2012,” Galen concluded.

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