Peterson, who is the Agricultural Committee Ranking member, said they would continue to work with the House on the issue and believes that the bill would have passed sooner if the Goodlatte-Scott dairy amendment had been removed.
“Nevertheless, today’s action means that there is still hope that a new farm bill can be passed in 2013,” continued Kozak. “Without any progress toward a Senate-House conference committee, we were looking at yet another one-year extension of current programs, which is unacceptable. Today’s vote means that agricultural leaders now can work on improving the House bill and developing better dairy policy than what exists now, and what is contained in this House bill.”
Peterson is optimistic that a five-year farm bill can still be passed that is more favorable to the dairy industry, but the first step is for the House-Senate conference committee to draft a compromised version of the bill. Should one not be passed by both the Senate and the House, the current Farm Bill is set to expire on September 30, 2013.
Posted: June 23, 2013 at 1:34 pm
By Cindy Zimmerman
Republican amendments to the dairy program and giving states the option to require able-bodied food stamp recipients to seek employment were the straws that broke the camel’s back when it came to getting a farm bill passed in the House last week. The dairy measure was the Goodlatte-Scott amendment, which effectively killed the Dairy Security Act included in the bill, and the food stamps amendment was sponsored by Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL).
“Those two votes cost us a lot of votes and I would guess it didn’t get them a damn thing on their side,” House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) told reporters after the vote.
In fact, at least 58 Republicans who voted in favor of the deal-killing Southerland amendment voted against the final bill, which was pointed out by several Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who was blamed specifically in a statement by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (D-VA) for failure to pass the bill. Watch her reaction in the YouTube video below.
Posted: June 20, 2013 at 12:47 pm
By Cindy Zimmerman
Despite an impassioned plea by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas to “move this bill forward” the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (FARRM) failed on a vote of 194 to 234, with 60 Republicans joining the majority of Democrats to defeat the House version of the farm bill.
“If it fails today, I can’t guarantee you’ll see in this Congress another attempt,” said Lucas. “If you care about your folks, if you care about this institution … vote with me on final. If you don’t, when you leave here they’ll just say it’s a dysfunctional body, a broken institution full of dysfunctional people. That’s not true!”
Among the Republicans voting against the bill was Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), despite the fact that the House voted to approve his amendment striking the Dairy Market Stabilization Program and replacing it with a stand-alone margin insurance program for dairy producers.
Posted: June 15, 2013 at 9:24 am
By Cindy Zimmerman
Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN) visited with Kandiyohi County Dairy Ambassadors during West Central Dairy Days in Willmar last week. He is pictured here with ambassadors Caroline Holmberg; Kristen, Kate, and Meghan Dimler; and Eva Damhof.
“As we celebrate National Dairy Month, a number of festivals are being held in communities across the 7th District in tribute to the hard work of our dairy farmers,” Peterson said in his weekly newsletter. “The Senate passed their version of the Farm Bill late Monday night, so now it is up to the House to finish our work and get both sides to conference.”
“This process has gone on far too long but with the strong bipartisan support in the Senate, I’m optimistic the House will be able to consider our farm bill next week. It’s going to be difficult but if everything stays on track, I believe it’s possible to get a bill to the President before the August recess, finally providing some certainty for our farmers, ranchers and consumers,” said Peterson, adding that Speaker Boehner has now said he will support the House Agriculture Committee’s farm bill, despite some reservations. “The House Rules Committee has announced a potential meeting next week to set the parameters for debating the farm bill on the floor of the House.”
“I’ve got concerns about the farm bill, as I told our members,” Boehner said during the Republican Leadership press conference Wednesday. “But doing nothing means that we get no changes in the farm program, no changes in the nutrition program. And as a result, I’m going to vote for the farm bill to make sure that the good work of the Agriculture Committee and whatever the floor might do to improve this bill gets to a conference so that we can get the kind of changes that people want in our nutrition programs and our farm programs.”
On Monday, Boehner released a statement about the farm bill noting that his main problem with the bill is dairy. “I had concerns about some of the dairy provisions of the Farm Bill last year, and those concerns remain this year. I oppose those provisions and will support efforts on the House floor to change them appropriately.”
Posted: June 10, 2013 at 8:23 pm
By Cindy Zimmerman
The Senate passed the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 by a vote of 66 to 27 on Monday evening, putting even more pressure on the House of Representatives to complete its work to get a bill to conference and passed by the end of summer. Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), a member of the House agriculture committee, is hopeful.
“Certainly that should be the goal,” says Rep. Hartzler. “I know the leadership of the House Ag and I think the Senate Ag Committee as well want to see this done and wrapped up by August, so we’re certainly going to try.”
Rep. Hartzler says the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM) of 2013 is a good bill that deserves to pass so she is cautiously optimistic it will once it gets to the floor next week. “But there are going to be a lot of amendments and there is going to be a lot of discussion,” she said. “There’s a lot of controversial aspects to the bill among several members.”
Those controversial issues include food assistance and the dairy program. The full House is expected to take up its version of a farm bill next week.
Posted: May 15, 2013 at 3:31 pm
By Cindy Zimmerman
The House Agriculture Committee came out in support of the Dairy Security Act (DSA) on Wednesday, voting to reject an amendment by Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and David Scott (D-GA) to remove the supply management mechanism of the act.
“Supply management is antithetical to the future growth of the dairy industry,” Goodlatte and Scott said in a statement expressing their disappointment in the vote. “A supply control program that will directly intervene in markets and increase milk prices will ultimately hurt dairy producers and consumers as well as dairy food manufacturers by stifling industry growth. This program is contrary to the reforms already in the Farm Bill.”
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) was pleased with the outcome. “The House committee has now twice rejected the Goodlatte-Scott effort to undermine establishment of a workable national dairy policy,” said NMPF president and CEO Jerry KozaK. “As the farm bill moves to the House floor, we hope that the committee’s decision today will be the final word on the matter. It is time for dairy processors to end their campaign of divisiveness, and assist us in moving the farm bill toward completion.”
The committee worked for over five hours straight on the bill before taking a break, but will reconvene this evening to finish. By contrast, the Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday completed its work in less than four hours. House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) met with farm broadcasters just shortly before his committee began the markup saying he expected it to be a long day but maybe not quite as long as last year’s 15 hour session. “But I would note that we had approximately 100 amendments a year ago, as of this morning we have approximately 100 amendments this time,” he said.
Lucas says the bill will go to the House floor this year “a dramatic improvement over a year ago” but he does expect it to be a struggle. “Whatever we do in the committee, many of the battles – whether it is over dairy, or sugar, or the size of the nutrition reforms, will be fought out again on the floor of the United States House,” he said. “But it’s a struggle we’re prepared to engage in and we’re prepared to move forward on.”
The House Agriculture Committee will take up their version of the bill on Wednesday, where an alternative plan to the DSA will be proposed. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told farm broadcasters meeting in Washington on Tuesday that he expects dairy to be a challenge in the farm bill.
“I think everybody likes the price stabilization piece of it, (but) how do you ensure that it doesn’t break the bank financially,” said Vilsack. “But clearly something’s got to get done in dairy because we’ve had too much volatility and we’ve lost too many of our producers because of it.”
A new analysis of the two dairy proposals under consideration in the House Agriculture Committee finds the Dairy Security Act (DSA) would better for farmers and less costly for taxpayers compared to the Goodlatte-Scott alternative.
The new report, prepared by University of Missouri agricultural economists Scott Brown and Daniel Madison, assessed how each option would have affected farm-level economics during the period 2009 through 2012. Under that model they found the DSA would have increased net farm revenues by $0.55 per cwt over the period studied, while the Goodlatte-Scott amendment would have raised farm revenue by only $0.48 per cwt. In addition, the model suggests that the Goodlatte-Scott proposal would have cost $1 billion over the 2009 to 2012 period compared to the DSA, because it would encourage more milk production at lower margins.
Posted: May 14, 2013 at 6:51 am
By Cindy Zimmerman
The Senate Agriculture Committee meets this morning to consider the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 and the House ag committee is scheduled to meet tomorrow morning to consider their version of a farm bill. Drafts from both committees were released last week.
Chris Galen with the National Milk Producers Federation says both drafts contain the Dairy Security Act and he expects the Senate to pass this proposal which they support, but on the House side there is another proposal being offered which they oppose. “Basically it would turn farmers into takers of government welfare because it would not allow the marketplace to correct quick enough,” he said. “They would be getting margin insurance subsidized by the government but not getting the necessary price signals that would either restore the market price for milk or reduce the cost to the taxpayer of the program.” That alternative is being proposed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).
Galen says Congress appears to be serious about getting a farm bill passed this year. “I don’t think anyone wants a repeat of 2012,” he said. “The good news is that we’ve heard rumors that not only is the Senate Ag committee going to work on the farm bill this week, but they may actually vote on it on the Senate floor this week.” The House was a hold out last week, of course, but Galen hopes they will schedule time for it this year. “I think the stars and planets will align and that they will either be desperate enough or sick enough to get us a new farm bill this year.”
A coalition of more than 50 state and national dairy organizations have sent a letter to members of the House Agriculture Committee urging them to include the Dairy Security Act in the farm bill when they begin mark up next week. The letter states the need for “a financially-sound risk management program to help farmers better manage margin volatility.”
The groups further ask the Committee members to reject the Dairy Freedom Act put forth by Congressmen Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and David Scott (D-GA) “because it would weaken the safety net for farmers in order to benefit dairy processors.” The Dairy Freedom Act does not contain the market stabilization component the DSA does. The groups contend the supply management provision would send a clear signal to farmers when production needs to be reduced resulting in a faster rebound in low-market situations.
Supporters of the Dairy Security Act argue the production controls would be detrimental to the dairy industry in that producers and processors would be reluctant to grow and expand for fear they may be called upon to cut milk output at some point. They also say that would make us an unreliable supplier on the world market.
The Senate Ag Committee is scheduled to mark up their farm bill on Tuesday but there are no indications the alternative Dairy Freedom Act will be introduced in that committee.
Officials with the Dairy Business Association (DBA) in Wisconsin say they are “extremely pleased” with the extension because they are opposed to the program that was included in the Senate version of the farm bill passed last year.
“The supply management program was rejected because legislators in Congress realized that if it were passed; this communism style of dairy policy would intrude on dairy markets by controlling the milk supply and artificially creating demand for dairy products at higher prices. Supply management programs have been tried before, been proven to be a mistake and a costly failure. We can’t continue to make the same mistakes,” said Laurie Fischer, Executive Director of the Dairy Business Association. “The removal of the Dairy Security Act from the farm bill extension is a victory for the Nation’s dairy producers.”
DBA worked persistently to educate members of Congress on the harmful impacts limiting milk production advocating for the consideration a milk insurance program instead. DBA had advocated for reforming the dairy safety net programs, but DBA believed the Dairy Security Act would have taken our Nation’s dairy industry in the wrong direction.
“Limiting milk production and paying producers to not produce milk just doesn’t make sense,” added Jerry Meissner, DBA’s President. “In spite of some national dairy groups advising legislators that all farmers were in favor of supply management, it simply is not the truth. Farmers from across the nation are not in favor of this provision.”
On November 1, 2012, Pulse Opinion Research conducted a telephone survey of 319 farmers and ranchers who are likely voters. Questions covered the presidential election, farm bill priorities, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s job performance rating, the Renewable Fuels Standard, and other topics.
The telephone survey found that 71 percent of respondents strongly disapprove of President Obama’s job performance while 12 percent strongly approve. Of all farmers polled, 51 percent labeled themselves Republican, 26 percent Democrat.
It may not be surprising that 92 percent of self-identified Republican respondents picked Romney as their presidential vote, but more than half (53 percent) of the self-identified Democrat respondents also picked Romney. Additionally, 74 percent of farmers who identified themselves as “other” in party affiliation expressed preference for Romney.
Asked whether Republicans or Democrats are to blame for the failure to pass a new farm bill, 46 percent answered Democrats while 28 percent said both parties are equally responsible. Nineteen percent blamed Republicans. Interestingly, 35 percent of self-identified Democrats blamed their own party, while only 7 percent of self-identified Republicans blamed theirs.
When it came to identifying the biggest threats to the future of their farming operations, environmental regulations came out on top with 33%, with tax burdens next at 29%. The third biggest threat identified is “activist groups who oppose modern farming methods” at 16 percent.
It’s regulations and legislation on the minds of dairy farmers. Producers are worried about whether they will be able to get a waiver from the federal Food and Drug Administration for corn hit by aflatoxin because of the drought, as well the lack of a new farm bill, which means the loss of the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) Program, reverting back to the original 1949 pricing policy.
In this edition of the Milking Parlor, we hear from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack as he tackled these issues during the recent World Dairy Expo … and even a peak at what his future might be should President Obama get re-elected.
After the town hall meeting the Secretary visited with the press. I got a couple questions in on that session. He was asked if he’d stay on as Secretary if President Obama wins re-election but kind of dodged it, calling it a complicated question. He says he has the best job in the world.
Several major agricultural organizations issued a joint statement today on the official expiration of the 2008 farm bill.
The 2008 law governing many of our nation’s farm policies expired on Sunday, September 30th, and the 2012 Farm Bill needed to replace it is bottled up in Congress. While the Senate and the House Agriculture Committees were both able to pass their versions of the new farm bill, the full House was unable to do so. While expiration of farm bill program authorities has little or no effect on some important programs, it has terminated a number of important programs and will very adversely affect many farmers and ranchers, as well as ongoing market development and conservation efforts.
Congress will return in mid-November for a lame-duck session prior to final adjournment in December. We will work to have the first order of business for the House of Representatives be to consider a new Farm Bill. We are urging our members to seek out their House members between now and the elections and remind them of the consequences of not having a new bill in place prior to adjournment at the end of the year.
Among the organizations issuing the joint statement is the National Milk Producers Federation, since one of the programs that is now expired is the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program. “Dairy producers will face considerable challenges,” said the groups’ statement. “That program compensated dairy producers when domestic milk prices fall below a specified level. Without a new farm bill, dairy farmers are left with uncertainty and inadequate assistance. While milk prices are high enough that the price support program doesn’t kick in; unfortunately, there is no other safety net to help battle the highest feed costs on record.”
Posted: September 30, 2012 at 5:34 pm
By John Davis
Congress left town with a little unfinished business… in this case, without passing a new farm bill! The old one expired at the end of September, and for dairy, that means the expiration of the Milk Income Loss Contract … or MILC … Program. And that means that program reverts back to the original 1949 policy.
In this edition of the Milking Parlor, we hear from American Farm Bureau Farm Policy Specialist Dale Moore, National Milk Producers Federation spokesman Chris Galen, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, as they talk about the implications on dairy by the lack of a farm bill at this point and what it could mean for the future.
Posted: September 24, 2012 at 8:51 am
By Cindy Zimmerman
No new farm bill means dairy producers will be left holding an empty bucket at the end of this month.
“With expiration of the farm bill, dairy farmers will lose what little safety net they have,” said Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) who led a failed attempt last week have the House consider the Senate-passed farm bill prior to adjourning until after the November election.
While expiration of the MILC program in and of itself will not have a significant short term impact on dairy producers, not having a new farm bill now is “a huge hit to dairy at a time when dairy is really struggling,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Secretary Vilsack is frustrated and disappointed that House leadership failed to allow a vote on the bill passed by the agriculture committee, and he thinks they have ulterior motives. “I don’t think it’s simply issues involving nutrition assistance,” he said. “I think the House leadership also has plans to significantly cut and reduce support for farm programs – conservation programs, commodity title, as well as the crop insurance title.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters last week before Congress called it quits that they would deal with a farm bill after the election because he did not believe there were 218 votes to pass either an extension or new legislation. “The current situation that we face is that we’ve got people who believe there’s not enough reform in the farm bill that came out of committee, and others who believe there’s too much reform in the bill that came out of committee,” Boehner said. “But when we get back, we will deal with the issue of the farm bill.”
Democratic leaders in Congress, including Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) have vowed to oppose an extension of the current farm bill in the lame duck session and get a new bill passed that would include a new dairy program. “I’m absolutely committed to doing everything humanly possible to complete the farm bill in November or December,” Stabenow said.
Posted: September 17, 2012 at 8:51 am
By Cindy Zimmerman
House and Senate members from dairy states are seeking a temporary fix for the dairy safety net until the new dairy program that is included in both the Senate and House farm bill versions can become law. Both bills would end the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program and replace it with a new insurance program for dairy farmers and would ideally have been in place by the time current farm programs expire on September 30. However, despite Senate passage of farm legislation, the House has yet to act on its version.
A letter to House and Senate leaders, signed by a total of 60 lawmakers of both houses, was initiated by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) in the Senate, and by Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) in the House. They urge that until a new Farm Bill has been enacted and USDA has a dairy program in place, offsets be found to maintain the MILC program at its previous coverage levels for the duration of any extension of current policy. The legislative vehicle for this remedy could be a short-term extension of the current farm bill, or a drought disaster relief bill, or other legislation.
Rep. Ribble notes that parts of the MILC program changed on September 1 and will result in coverage levels so low that the program is not expected to be triggered even in these times of high feed prices, leaving individual dairy farmers with no safety net. “With drought-related feeds costs soaring, this new gap in coverage threatens to leave dairy producers in the lurch until a new Farm Bill is enacted,” says a press release from Ribble’s office. “Even a straight extension of the current Farm Bill would still leave MILC program rates at the lower level. According to dairy economists, this decline in the MILC feed cost adjuster would prevent the program from providing any support to the nation’s dairy farmers, despite soaring feed costs caused by the nation’s crippling drought.”
One of them was NMPF First Vice Chairman Ken Nobis, a dairy farmer from St. John, Michigan, who told those assembled that politics shouldn’t stand in the way of helping America’s farmers.
“Dairy farmers have worked with Democrats and Republicans, in the Senate and the House, to create a farm bill that saves taxpayers money, and at the same time offers dairy producers a more effective safety net when times are tough,” Nobis said. “It would be a tragic mistake, after this bill has already passed the Senate, and the House Agriculture Committee, to let it wither and die on the political vine, rather than make the necessary effort to get it passed in the coming weeks.”
NMPF officials say with just 10 days on the legislative calendar in the House, Congress can either quickly pass a new bill, let the old one expire and pass a new one in a lame duck session after the November elections, or pass a one-year extension of current farm programs. The group has already opposed the one-year extension option.
Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson agreed with the NMPF’s opposition of the one-year extension. “This is a very bad idea and an unnecessary idea,” he told the crowd gathered. Peterson pointed out the only place that an extension would have an effect before next May is in dairy, because the permanent law doesn’t go into effect for dairy until January 1, 2013, and “at that point we have 38-dollar milk.” He urged attendees to call their lawmakers and push them to get a new bill passed now.
Posted: September 11, 2012 at 6:26 pm
By John Davis
Recess is over… and it’s time to get back to work. That’s the message members of the Dairy Farmers of America are sending to the U.S. House. Congress went on its August recess before a floor vote could be taken on the House’s version of the farm bill, H.R. 6083 – the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012. A similar measure has already passed the Senate. In a letter from John Wilson, Senior Vice President of DFA, the group sent a petition with nearly 2,000 signatures to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) reminding him that the current bill expires soon:
“The 2008 authorization bill expires on September 30, 2012, and current domestic dairy programs do not provide farmers with the tools they need to weather extreme volatility in the global market. The bill pending before Congress represents significant compromise and fiscal discipline, and addresses critical needs of the dairy industry.
“Passage of the 2012 Farm Bill is vitally important to America’s dairy farmers. The dairy provisions in H.R. 6083 would provide dairy farmers with enhanced risk management tools, keep the industry competitive in the global marketplace, and save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. More importantly, this program will be critical in helping dairy farmers avoid the massive erosion of equity experienced in 2009.