Farm bill released as Peterson introduces dairy bill |

Farm bill released as Peterson introduces dairy bill

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, held a news conference with other Republican committee members Thursday, April 12, to release the text of the farm bill.

Although Conaway’s staff has described the bill as bipartisan, Democratic committee aides said they have not seen the final text of the bill and view the bill as Republican.

The farm program sections of the bill appear to have been negotiated on a bipartisan basis, but House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., has said that Conaway has refused to negotiate on the nutrition title. Peterson also told the North American Agricultural Journalists earlier this week that the bill will not solve the problems in rural America due to low commodity prices and that he has instructed his staff to work with the Congressional Budget Office on a bill to raise target prices under the Price Loss Coverage program by 10 percent.

Wednesday, Peterson introduced a bill to make changes to the dairy program, although those changes may also be in the bill that Conaway will introduce.

In a news release, Peterson said that the Dairy Risk Management Act (H.R. 5462) would replace the current Margin Protection Program (MPP).

“After spending the last two weeks in Minnesota and participating in a dairy forum in Albany, I wanted to formalize the approach I’m hoping to take as the farm bill moves forward. Dairy farmers in my district and across the country are facing tough times that show no signs of letting up. They need a safety net that will help them better manage difficult market conditions now and into the future,” Peterson said.

USDA’s Economic Research Service forecasts dairy farms to experience a 19.2 percent decrease in net cash farm income from 2017 to 2018 – the largest decrease expected for any livestock specialization, Peterson noted.

“The Dairy Risk Management Act addresses the shortcomings of MPP and what I believe should have been included in the Bipartisan Budget Act by offering a stronger safety net that allows dairy farmers to utilize all available risk management tools,” Peterson said.

He said the Dairy Risk Management Act would:

▪ Reduce the cost of $8 coverage for the first 5 million pounds of all producers’ covered production to just 9 cents per cwt.

▪ More accurately reflect actual producer margins by establishing coverage options at both $8.50 and $9 for the first 5 million pounds of all producers’ covered production;

▪ Give producers more flexibility by allowing them to enroll between 0 percent and 90 percent of their production for buy-up coverage;

▪ Retain monthly payment triggers;

▪ Allow producers to use both the new Dairy Risk Management Program and Livestock Gross Margin insurance for dairy at the same time, as long as the programs do not cover the same milk; and

▪ Adjust the calculation of the Class I mover in order to allow dairy producers, cooperatives and processors to better manage the price risk of milk regulated under the Federal Milk Marketing Orders.

–The Hagstrom Report

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