Faso highlights dairy changes, farm bill bogged down

WASHINGTON, DC — While the 2018 Farm Bill appears to be bogged down by partisan differences, there are some changes occurring in the dairy world thanks to the recent passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 in Washington.

Congressman John Faso on April 3 applauded the development, which involves the reopening of the enrollment for the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The enrollment period runs from April 9 to June 1 and Faso invites dairy producers to contact one of his offices with any questions.

Faso said, “Dairy farmers are in the midst of a prolonged economic crisis as market conditions, trade barriers and ineffective government policies have created a perfect storm of damaging factors. After consultation with dairy farmers in the district and my Ag Advisory Committee, I have been working with my colleagues to bring changes to the Margin Protection Program enacted in 2014.”

“The version of the program enacted in 2014 did not do enough to support our dairy industry and has contributed to the current situation. With recent changes included in the bipartisan budget deal, dairy farmers will be in a better position than they were before.”

The changes made to the MPP-Dairy will sharply reduce premiums, which, according to Faso, will “help small and medium dairy farmers obtain more meaningful coverage.”

Farm bill

The 2018 Farm Bill meanwhile is due to be taken up by lawmakers in Washington when they return to the capital from spring break, but it may fall victim to political posturing in this election year.

The most expensive item covered by the farm bill, which is revisited every five years, is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps), with a $70 billion price tag, equal to about 80% of the cost of the entire bill.

Republicans on the House Agricultural Committee want to reform SNAP. One reported proposal would by require “able-bodied” adult recipients of the program, those without children, to work at least 20 hours a week or be enrolled in training to continue to receive benefits. Democrats on the committee project said that such a change would lead to $20 billion in cuts to SNAP over the next decade, and they have ceased negotiating SNAP with the committee chair Mike Conaway.

Republicans have argued that Democrat’s depiction of the legislation are faulty, but details have been kept under wraps, so it’s hard for outsiders to know exactly what has been proposed.

President Donald Trump has clearly sided with the reform SNAP agenda. His proposed budget included cutting benefits to individuals in half, and replacing that with packages of shelf-stable food such as cereal and canned vegetables. 

In 2013, the farm bill was delayed for months over the issue of SNAP, and more than one analyst is predicting that the current farm bill, which expires on September 30, will be delayed until after the next election.

 

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