The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) expressed optimism towards the proposed USDA Farm Bill.
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns mentioned the value of maintaining the dairy price support program Wednesday as he unveiled the USDA’s list of items it will ask Congress to consider adopting. NMPF also supports continuing the general framework of the price support program in the next Farm Bill.
The USDA is also proposing a new system of direct payments in lieu of the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program. Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of NMPF, noted that NMPF understands that there is no single program that addresses all of the industry’s complex needs. Because of this, the upcoming Farm Bill must take a hybrid approach by encompassing a package of safety net programs, including some form of direct payment, along with incentives for on-farm renewable energy development. Kozak said he was also encouraged by USDA’s plan to implement a promotion assessment on imported dairy products. NMPF worked include the import assessment in the 2002 Farm Bill, but it was never implemented because not all U.S. dairy farmers currently pay the 15 per hundredweight promotion checkoff. The few farmers in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico are exempt, which will change in the new Farm Bill.