USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will resume milk production quarterly producer surveys in the new federal fiscal year, which begins October 1, 2013.
NASS suspended the surveys in April of this year to meet the budget reductions required by sequestration. The agency uses information gathered in the quarterly surveys along with various sources of administrative data to establish the monthly milk production estimates. With the quarterly surveys, the dairy cow and milk per cow statistics will once again be available. These are critical data points for interested parties to forecast future milk supply. The program will resume with a late September mailing of the survey form to producers and the release of resulting data on October 21.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has launched several initiatives to help keep the dairy industry strong in his state.
Among the initiatives announced by Cuomo is the Dairy Acceleration Program, making $1 million in funding available to help dairy farmers develop individualized business and environmental plans.
Through the program, farmers will be able to tap into the expertise of the Cornell Cooperative Extension network, Cornell PRO-DAIRY and other agricultural programs to facilitate and grow their business and in turn increase production on their farms.
Cuomo also pointed to recent legislation supporting farmers in their efforts to concern farm waste into renewable energy through anaerobic digesters.
“New York’s dairy farms are in a unique position to benefit from the exciting ascension of the yogurt industry as they supply healthy, local milk to the yogurt makers in their own “backyard.” Governor Cuomo’s new initiatives will not only help our farms grow in a responsible way, but in turn, will help our rural economy grow as well. We appreciate his continued recognition that New York’s diverse farms are an integral part of the business community Upstate and on Long Island,” said Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau.
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 27, 2013 at 2:47 pm
By Cindy Zimmerman
Despite concerns by some members about the agricultural provisions, the full Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform legislation on Thursday by a vote of 68-32.
Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) took to the floor Wednesday evening to detail some of his concerns about the farm worker provisions in the bill and amendments that he wanted to see added.
The Georgia senator’s main issues center around requirements under the “Blue Card” program the new legislation would set up that he feels could add too many farm workers and ultimately make it easier for them to move out of agriculture and into other areas of employment.
Chambliss spent time detailing the amendments he would like to offer that would fix some of the concerns he has and said he was disappointed they would not be considered. “The ag portion of this bill is a critical piece of the legislation and I’m afraid it’s been overshadowed by some of the other issues,” he said. “Ultimately, I want what’s best for American agriculture.”
Agricultural groups hailed passage of the Senate bill within minutes of the final vote.
“We’ve known for years that the status quo employment situation in dairy farming is not sustainable. Today, the Senate moved decisively past that admission, and voted to change our labor and immigration laws for the better,” said National Milk Producers Federation president and CEO Jerry Kozak “Rather than tinker with what wasn’t working, this new immigration measure builds something new and much better.”
“The key is to demonstrate to a majority of the House that action is needed. The bill the House will consider is going to be different than this Senate bill, but the critical thing is that a bill addressing the needs of agriculture must be passed by the House. Inaction is not an option,” Kozak said.
Speaker of the House John Boehner said in a press conference today, “The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes. We’re going to do our own bill, through regular order.” (Audio and video below) Boehner on Immigration Reform
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.
Dairy Farmers of America’s vice president of industry and legislative affairs, Jackie Klippenstein, served on the National Council of Farmer Cooperative’s (NCFC) immigration reform panel.
The panel, Our Nation’s Immigration System Needs Work: Co-op Perspectives on the Need for Reform, gave attendees an understanding of what immigration reform means for a diverse range of agricultural producers across the country. Joining Klippenstein on the panel were Rich Hudgins of California Canning Peach Association and Bob Smith of Farm Credit East. The session was moderated by Chuck Conner, president and chief executive officer of NCFC.
The NCFC panel was especially timely, as the Senate voted on cloture this week, signaling their commitment to moving forward S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013.
As a panelist, Klippenstein spoke in support of the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform proposal, which includes compromise language for the agriculture sector. S. 744 includes agricultural provisions that address current undocumented workers while creating two new types of farm worker visas — one for seasonal workers, and one that meets the needs of dairy producers for year-round help.
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.
The leadership at Minnesota Milk Producers Association has voted unanimously to support a six-month window between the deadline for making the annual signup decision and the beginning of a coverage period for any margin insurance program to be included in the Farm Bill.
“We are looking for the best policy to provide catastrophic risk insurance for dairy farmers and encourage liquidity in the current futures market, allowing us better opportunities in the long-term,” stated Pat Lunemann, President of Minnesota Milk and dairy producer from Clarissa, Minn. “And we believe including this clause in any future margin insurance program is the right thing to do.”
The meeting and decision was a result of information provided by John Newton, Cameron S. Thraen, Marin Bozic, Mark Stephenson, Christopher Wolf and Brian W. Gould in a recently submitted briefing paper entitled, “Goodlatte-Scott vs. the Dairy Security Act: Shared Potential, Shared concerns and Open Questions.” The direct proposal Minnesota Milk is supporting is outlined at the bottom of page 13.
“An insurance plan is there to help us with potential risk and should not be used as a tool to make money,” stated Greg Jans, chair of Minnesota Milk’s Policy committee and producer from Grove City, Minn. “That’s why Minnesota Milk supports the sign-up period in March with coverage effective in October.”
The leadership at Minnesota Milk will be meeting with Congressional Delegates to encourage the inclusion of this proposal in any margin insurance program included in the Farm Bill.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has rejected a petition that sought an exception to the current ban on the inter-state sale of raw milk products – citing a lack of proof that the amendment would “adequately mitigate the dangers posed by raw milk.”
Posted: January 3, 2013 at 10:37 am
By Cindy Zimmerman
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) says “the status quo is not an acceptable outcome, either for farmers or taxpayers” and they will continue to push the 113th Congress for a five-year farm bill that includes the Dairy Security Act.
NMPF Senior VP of Communications Chris Galen says the dairy security act that was part of the farm bill legislation passed by the senate last year and included in the house bill would not only help the dairy industry but also reduce spending. “They had to find some offsets to pay for the extension of the dairy programs that were included in the fiscal cliff package,” said Galen, who notes that overall adoption of a new farm bill would save $20-30 billion.
Galen says dairy producers are pleased with what the fiscal cliff agreement included for estate taxes from returning at punitively high levels in 2013. “They did do something for the dairy industry and for the farm community on that issue,” he said. The package includes a 40% rate on estates valued at more than $5 million, up from the previous 35% rate, but far less than the 55% top rate on $1 million estates that was scheduled to become permanent.
I talked with Galen about the concerns of NMPF and how they intend to address them in the 113th Congress. Interview with Chris Galen
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.”
Posted: January 1, 2013 at 7:56 pm
By Cindy Zimmerman
The fiscal cliff compromise passed by the Senate in the wee hours of New Year’s Day morning only included a farm bill extension because of the so-called “dairy cliff” – but few are pleased with the concept.
“I am pleased that the final agreement also includes an extension of the 2008 Farm Bill through the end of September 2013,” said ranking minority member on the Senate Ag committee Pat Roberts (R-KS) in a statement. “While this extension is not the best possible bill, I believe it is the best bill possible at this time. It provides consumers certainty by avoiding the dairy cliff, and it provides certainty to our producers and their lenders as Congress continues work on a Farm Bill in 2013.”
National Milk Producers President and CEO Jerry Kozak called the nine-month extension of current farm policy “a devastating blow” to the nation’s dairy farmers. “After months of inaction, the plan that passed overnight as part of the fiscal cliff package amounts to shoving farmers over the dairy cliff without providing any safety net below,” said Kozak. “These stop-gap efforts don’t even qualify as kicking the can down the road. It’s little more than a New Year’s Day, hair-of-the-dog stab at temporarily putting off decisions that should have been made in 2012 about how to move farm policy forward, not offer more of the same.”
The Senate package passed by a vote of 89 to 8, with both of Iowa’s Senators – one from each party – voting against it for different reasons, although Republican Chuck Grassley said he did support extension of the farm bill. The others who voted against the deal in the Senate were Tom Carper (D-DE), Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Marco Rubio (R-FL). House leadership spent most of New Year’s Day trying to get the votes to pass the bill and finally approved the bill late in the evening by a vote of 257-167.
Posted: November 20, 2012 at 11:00 am
By John Davis
This year was a pretty tumultuous one for many dairy producers across the country, especially with the way the drought impacted many operations. The USDA needs to get more information so it knows what’s happening on America’s farms. That’s why the 2012 Census of Agriculture forms will be hitting producers’ mailboxes very soon.
“The Census of Agriculture will be dropped in the mail December 14th, so farmers should expect it in their mailboxes by the end of the year,” says Renee Picanso, Director of the USDA’s Census and Survey Division, asking that those surveyed return their census by Feb. 4, 2013. During an interview at Trade Talk at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting convention, she added that they’ll be asking some new questions this year, including some on agriforestry and renewable energy. Also new this year will be the opportunity to fill out the survey over the internet, something they believe will help response rates. “I hope so, because it leads you through the questions, and if you go on the internet, it will skip through the questions [not relevant to your operation].”
Picanso stresses that it’s very important for producers to respond because the survey helps USDA determine policy, as well as how it helps rural communities and agribusinesses. Results should be released in February 2014.
Posted: November 18, 2012 at 11:04 pm
By John Davis
It’s been quite a volatile year in the ag sector, especially for dairy producers in many areas hit hard by the drought and subsequent price spikes for feed. To get a handle on what happened and how it affected production (and thus, those depending on row crops), the USDA will soon send out its end-of-year surveys. Cindy caught up with Bob Bass, the Director of National Operations for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) during Trade Talk at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting convention, and he said the country’s farms and ranches have seen a wide range of conditions this year.
“It’s very important that we get a handle on the final production, and that includes the actual harvested acres and final yield,” as well at what stocks are in storage out there, Bass said. About 73,000 scientifically selected farms and ranches will be surveyed, representing the 2.2 million operations nationwide. “That’s why it is so important that we get an accurate and timely response from everyone of those selected samples.”
Bass added that NASS will be changing when they release some of their reports, with the monthly crop reports moving from 8:30 a.m. EST to Noon EST after the first of the year. “That’s at the request of data users across the country and the world… it’s a global economy now.” Livestock reports will remain at 3 p.m. EST.
Posted: November 14, 2012 at 7:35 pm
By News Editor
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) joined more than 230 other farm, agriculture and food groups in urging Congress to pass a new, five-year farm bill in the upcoming lame duck congressional session expected to begin this week.
The letter, which was directed at the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House of Representatives, noted that there is still ample time for the House to complete its work on a new farm bill, and reconcile any differences with the already-adopted farm bill approved last summer by the Senate.
Failure to pass a new bill before Dec. 31st “will create significant budget uncertainty for the entire agricultural sector, including the rural businesses and lenders whose livelihoods are dependent upon farmers’ and livestock producers’ economic viability,” the letter said.
NMPF has been working for three years on a new and better safety net for dairy farmers that was incorporated by the House Agriculture Committee in the overall farm bill adopted by that panel in August. The dairy reforms featured in both the House and Senate versions of the new farm bill will reduce government expenditures compared to current policy.
“If the question in Washington is how to reform government programs and make them more effective, we have an answer: pass the 2012 Farm Bill. The dairy title, along with the rest of the bill, saves money compared to the present program,” said Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of NMPF.
While some have suggested that Congress should forego action on a new bill and simply pass an extension of current programs, “any temporary extension would be a short-sighted, inadequate solution that would leave our constituencies crippled by uncertainty. Both the Senate and the House Committee on Agriculture passed versions of a five-year farm bill with strong bipartisan support. We urge you to lead your colleagues in passing a new 2012 Farm Bill this year,” the coalition letter said.
NMPF’s Board of Directors earlier this year came out against an extension of the status quo, asserting that an extension of current policy through 2013 does dairy farmers no real good, and leaves the tough choices about budget priorities unresolved.
NMPF President Jerry Kozak said that if Congress can’t generate the necessary effort to pass a new farm bill this year, the organization would not support an extension of current dairy programs, and instead would insist on getting the Dairy Security Act – the dairy reform bill already included in the Senate version of the Farm Bill – included in any extension package of other farm programs.