Although the U.S. House Agriculture Committee has a new farm bill ready to go to the floor for a vote, leadership decided late on Friday to instead vote this week on a one-year extension of the current legislation, coupled with an extension of disaster aid for livestock producers. According to Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK), drought fears are prompting the extension talk. “It is critical that we provide certainty to our producers and address the devastating drought conditions that are affecting most of the country and I look forward to supporting and advancing this legislation,” Lucas said in a statement.
The move prompted opposition from the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) today to extend the current farm bill and reiterated support to include the Dairy Security Act (DSA) in any final farm bill package:
“The current safety net for dairy farmers is not sufficient in dealing with scenarios like we are currently facing from high feed costs associated with the ongoing drought,” said Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of NMPF. “If we are going to be serious about providing better protection for the nation’s dairy farmers while at the same time providing taxpayer savings from current programs, then we should pass a new farm bill which includes the DSA, which was included in both the Senate-passed farm bill and the farm bill recently passed out of the House Agriculture Committee.
“Under the proposed extension, the Milk Income Loss Contract Program (MILC) would not pay out for the remainder of 2012 or for 2013 while the nation’s dairy farmers are experiencing razor-thin margins. The proposed 2008 farm bill extension does nothing to ensure dairy farmers and their bankers that they will have any safety net to deal with the present and future periods of tight margins and extreme volatility.”
The group urged both the House and Senate to reject the extension.