Dairy producers group praises House farm bill

A cooperative leader says dairy producers got much of what they asked for in the House version of the farm bill.

Alan Bjerga with the National Milk Producers Federation tells Brownfield the House bill, which passed the Ag Committee early Friday morning, includes improvements to the dairy safety net programs. “You saw an update in terms of the base years for production under the DMC (Dairy Margin Coverage) Program, which is very important. You also saw the continuation of the 25% premium discount if you sign up for DMC for five years.”

Bjerga says there was also strong support from the committee for some of National Milk’s proposals to modernize the Federal Milk Marketing Orders, including a return to the “higher of” Class I milk formula. “This is a formula that was changed in the 2018 Farm Bill and cost dairy farmers more than 1.2 billion dollars to date. That’s being restored to the old formula. We’re looking forward to getting mnney back in the dairy farmers’ pockets.”

And the House bill would authorize USDA to conduct mandatory cost-of-production studies for dairy processors, which Bjerga says will be important for determining future make allowances, or the amount deducted from the farmers’ milk checks to cover some of the processing costs.

Bjerga tells Brownfield the House bill had bipartisan support, but he’s not sure the full House will pass a farm bill this year. “Not only do you have Democrats who have issues with this program, there’s always an element of the Republican party that doesn’t like voting for additional spending and agricultural subsidies.”

Bjerga says having a House Ag Committee chairman from a dairy-producing region has been valuable for dairy producers in the creation of this farm bill package.

Audio: Alan Bjerga discusses the House version of the farm bill with Brownfield’s Larry Lee

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