The House of Representatives-approved appropriations bill funding the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration for the next fiscal year includes key advances for dairy which the National Milk Producers Federation applauds. The bill, which passed with bipartisan support today, includes provisions that were top priorities for NMPF as it works to assist dairy producers nationwide.
“Today’s House appropriations bill represents key gains for dairy and all of agriculture,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF, the largest organization of U.S. dairy farmers. “We especially thank the lawmakers who took extra steps to assist producers, and we look forward to working with senators as legislation advances through Congress.”
Among dairy’s gains, the bill:
- Urges FDA in multiple ways to enforce dairy product standards of identity. Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT), with bipartisan support from 18 of his colleagues, added an amendment on the House floor directing FDA to allocate $5 million to enforce federal rules that reserve dairy-product terms for real dairy products. The committee report also directs FDA to finally start enforcing dairy product standards of identity pursuant to a review process it began two years ago following pressure from NMPF and Congress.
- Allocates $10 million for the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network, a USDA program aimed at connecting those working in agriculture to stress assistance and support programs.
- Provides $990 million, a 78 percent boost from the current fiscal year, for ReConnect, the USDA Rural Development program working to provide broadband service to eligible rural areas.
- Sets aside $6 million for the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives program, which provides direct technical assistance and grants to dairy businesses to further the development, production, marketing, and distribution of dairy products. While the House Appropriations Committee initially provided $1 million for the program, Congressmen Peter Welch and Bryan Steil (R-WI) secured an additional $5 million with an amendment passed by the entire House of Representatives.
- Allocates $1 million to the Healthy Fluid Milk Incentives Projects, a program created in the 2018 Farm Bill to create pilot programs to boost milk consumption among SNAP households.
The Senate has yet to begin work on its own appropriations measures.