The first 2018 Farm Bill development meeting took place this week. Legislators have been encouraging the nation’s producers to speak up about what worked in the last Farm Bill and what didn’t.
Online publication Milk Business quotes Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Pat Roberts as saying: “We need clear direction on what is and what is not working in farm country.”
Dairy farmers have been very vocal of late regarding the Margin Protection Program established in the last Farm Bill. The dissatisfaction began in 2015 and that spilled over into the next year. In spite of the fact that dairy cash flow was down, participation was described as “anemic.”
University of Missouri economist Scott Brown said the ongoing concern within the dairy industry is that the MPP doesn’t provide a strong enough safety net. Lawmakers have discussed improving the Margin Protection Program in the next Farm Bill but Brown says that’s going to cost some money.
“It’s extremely difficult to construct a strong enough safety net program for dairy while reducing federal spending,” he says, adding: “There’s a high correlation between government expenditures and the effectiveness of the safety net.”