“With difficult months of the pandemic still ahead, it was crucial for lawmakers to come to a bipartisan agreement that helps farmers do what they do best: feed families. To do this, they need financial stability and ways to connect to families in need. We thank Congress for its leadership, and we look forward to working with USDA in implementing this legislation. Importantly, this package includes nearly $1 billion in targeted support to help dairy producers continue to feed families throughout these difficult times,” said Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEO.
Highlights of the pandemic legislative package for dairy producers include:
· Dairy Donation Program – the measure provides $400 million for a new NMPF-backed Dairy Donation Program to help dairy stakeholders and non-profits work together to provide dairy products to food-insecure households and minimize food waste. This program is carefully balanced and is open to all dairy products. NMPF is grateful to Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) for their leadership in securing this and other dairy provisions in the package.
· Payment Limits Flexibility – the bill includes dedicated funding to allow USDA to provide additional compensation to producers who were unable to receive the full support they needed under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program on account of payment limitations. NMPF thanks Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) for advocating for this provision, as well as the many members who have sought flexibility on this front all year long including Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA).
· Supplemental DMC Payments – the measure establishes Supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage payments for farms that have increased their DMC production history since 2014. These payments will be based on the difference between the farm’s 2019 actual production and its DMC production history. While the provision is targeted to smaller operations, it will enhance the farm bill baseline for all dairy farmers as it runs concurrently with DMC up to 2023.
· Paycheck Protection Improvements – the bill includes the bipartisan NMPF-backed Paycheck Protection for Producers Act which would make the Paycheck Protection Program work better for sole proprietor, independent contractor, and self-employed dairy farmers by allowing them to use their 2019 gross farm income to determine their PPP loan amounts. NMPF commends Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Reps. Ron Kind (D-WI), Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA), Anthony Brindisi (D-NY), and John Joyce (R-PA) for their work on this measure.
Dairy producers will also be eligible for support in the $11 billion agricultural disaster assistance package Congress has included in the legislation, with additional details expected in coming days. Of note, at least $1.5 billion of this package is dedicated to additional product purchases.
NMPF has served its members as the leading advocate for U.S. dairy farmers throughout the coronavirus pandemic. It has also been an industry leader in providing useful informational resources for the dairy sector.