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Debate Over Farm Bill Dairy Provisions Continues

WAMC/Pat Bradley

As Congress reviews the Farm Bill, there remains debate outside the Beltway over some of the dairy provisions.

The National Family Farm Coalition held a conference call this week to express its concerns over what it says are flaws in the proposed dairy programs.  The group believes the new supply management and margin insurance programs that would be implemented for dairy farmers would not work and, as Coalition member Arden Tewksbury says, would be detrimental to the dairy operators the provisions target.

Some farm advocates are taken aback by the Coalition’s criticism of the Farm Bill’s dairy provisions. Agrimark Dairy Economist Bob Wellington designed the supply management proposal.  He crafted it, he says, with consensus from dairy farmers across the country.

To participate in the supply management program, farmers also must opt into a margin insurance program. National Family Farm Coalition member and Pennsylvania dairy farmer Brenda Cochran railed against the margin insurance plan.

But New York Farm Bureau Spokesman Steve Ammerman notes that the programs are voluntary and the new margin insurance program would provide farmers with a more equitable safety net.

New York Republican Congressman Chris Gibson of the Hudson Valley, speaking on WAMC’s Congressional Corner with Alan Chartock, says the overall pricing structure needs assessment.

The Farm Bill has cleared the Senate. House Speaker John Boehner has promised a floor vote.

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