Lobbyists for dairy farmers are conceding that their preferred dairy subsidy system will not be in the farm bill.
The willingness of the lobbyists to negotiate an alternative compromise solution bodes well for the farm bill coming to a vote before the end of January in the House.
The National Milk Producer Federation (NMPF) helped develop a combination of feed-to-milk price margin insurance and supply controls known as the Dairy Security Act. The program is in the Senate-passed farm bill but was stripped out of the House farm bill on the floor.
Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerHouse markup of ObamaCare repeal bill up in the air Conservatives to Congress: Get moving Boehner: ObamaCare repeal and replace 'not going to happen' MORE (R-Ohio) has made clear that he will not allow a farm bill vote if supply controls meant to bolster the price of milk are in the bill. Dairy food processors such as ice cream and cheese makers are opposed to the milk-price boosting provisions.
“Unfortunately, the Speaker’s threat that he would not allow a vote on a farm bill containing the market stabilization program has effectively served to kill our proposal within the committee,” NMPF President Jim Mulhern conceded in a statement late Thursday.
At his point, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and his Senate counterpart Sen. Debbie StabenowDebbie StabenowA guide to the committees: Senate Trump's pick to lead Medicare won't say if she supports negotiating prices with drug companies Overnight Finance: Fed chief tries to stay above partisan fray | Bill would eliminate consumer agency | Trump signs repeal of SEC rule on foreign payments MORE (D-Mich.) are negotiating an alternative to supply management.
The proposal could make insurance premium increases contingent on overproduction.
“We are now engaged in discussions with agriculture committee staff on an alternative approach to creating a dairy safety net that would contain inducements to help achieve a supply-demand balance and prevent catastrophic milk price collapses like we experienced in 2009,” Mulhern said. “At this point, it is conceivable that an alternative mechanism could be developed, relying upon adjustments to the program’s margin insurance payout structure and participant premium rates, among other options.”
So far, House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), the lead proponent of dairy farmer interests, has not signed off on a compromise.