WCMA And FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative Address 2023 Farm Bill
Members of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) and FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative were among about 200 attendees at a congressional listening session held Wednesday at the Radisson Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin, to discuss the 2023 Farm Bill. House Agriculture Committee Chair Glen “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., were at the session, while U.S. Rep. Derrick Van Orden, R-Wis., attended the session virtually.
WCMA’s Priorities: Dairy Business Innovation And Program Expansion
Among WCMA’s top priorities in the farm bill is funding for the Dairy Business Innovation Initiative (DBII). WCMA members are urging Congress to support increased funding for DBII, including for the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance run by WCMA and the Center for Dairy Research, totaling $36 million per year over the life of the next farm bill. DBII centers offer technical assistance as well as direct-to-business grants supporting value-added dairy production, export endeavors and on-farm revenue diversification. Other farm bill priorities for WCMA include permanent adoption of the Dairy Forward Pricing Program, expansion of Healthy Fluid Milk Incentives in SNAP, and expanded funding for staffing and services provided by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.
Advocating For Industry Growth And Rural Stability
“Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association members sent a strong message that the 2023 Farm Bill should invest in dairy processing innovation, expand dairy access via nutrition programs and make common-sense regulatory revisions, not only to support industry growth, but for the strength and stability of rural economies and the nation’s food supply chain. We appreciate those lawmakers who are leading the charge on these farm bill provisions and will continue to advocate for timely passage,” says Rebekah Sweeney, senior director, programs and policy, WCMA.
FarmFirst says the Dairy Margin Coverage program and other Risk Management Agency tools were dramatically improved in the 2018 Farm Bill and should be maintained, as it’s important that dairy producers continue to have access to the combination of safety net and risk management tools.
FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative’s Recommendations For Comprehensive Farm Bill
Jeff Lyon, FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative general manager, noted at the session that FarmFirst supports updating the production history calculation to better reflect current on-farm production levels as well as updating the current production threshold between Tier I and Tier II premiums to reflect growth in average dairy farm size.
In addition, FarmFirst believes the farm bill should continue to provide funding for important conservation programs, increase funding for trade programs and ensure that SNAP is kept in the farm bill with robust support to continue the longstanding connection between agriculture and nutrition. Lyon also expressed appreciation for work that has been done on the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act, DAIRY PRIDE Act and the upcoming hearing on full-scale modernization of the federal milk marketing order system.
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Source: Cheese Market News