CHENANGO COUNTY – Following two years of uncertainty and deliberation among U.S. lawmakers, the United States Congress passed a five-year Farm Bill on Wednesday, giving area farmers a reason to be optimistic as the bill heads to the Senate floor.
The Farm Bill proposes $1 trillion in spending on farm subsidies and nutrition programs. It reinstates a safety net for dairy farmers as well as many fruit and vegetable growers who are subject to whether conditions such as drought or flooding that have an impact on their growing operations.
The new bill also includes a voluntary dairy margin insurance protection program to replace the previous Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) Program and excludes government milk supply controls, likely to benefit small dairy farms with fewer than 200 cows by making higher levels of protection more affordable.
Having a new safety net in place for dairy farmers also protects consumers from higher milk prices at the grocery store. Without those subsidies, the federal government, by law, would revert to an outdated agriculture policy created to provide dairy farmers a price floor which would drive milk prices as high as $8 per gallon.