National Milk Producers Federation
Farm Bill Cultivation Time is Now, NMPF’s Bleiberg Says
With initial hearings under way, dairy’s priorities in the 2023 Farm Bill are taking shape, NMPF Senior Vice President for Government Relations Paul Bleiberg said in an NMPF podcast.
“A lot of that stakeholder outreach is going on right now, both publicly in hearings and behind the scenes as well, as we all start to figure out what improvements do we need to see in the next Farm Bill,” Bleiberg said. “It's an important opportunity given that it only does come up every so often.”
Bleiberg also discussed upcoming congressional elections and how redistricting could affect dairy’s political clout in the next Congress.
Love of Farm, Family Motivates Young Cooperators Leader
A commitment to a rural family life motivates work at Unc Brooke Farm, said Val Levine of Schaghticoke, NY, chairwoman of NMPF’s National Young Cooperators organization of younger dairy farmers, Levine said in a Dairy Defined podcast released today. Levine and her husband, members of the Agri-Mark cooperative, operate the 200-cow dairy near Schaghticoke, NY, along with numerous side businesses related to the farm.
“We are a family run farm. We do have a few employees, but for the most part, the family does a lot of the work, and we're happy to,” she said. “I'm so happy to be able to raise my three children on the farm with the cows and the other animals, and I wouldn't want it any other way.”
Along with the farm, the family raises turkeys, beef, and goats along with a catering business.
Lavine also discusses the challenges of being a younger farmer and why she’s leading the YCs, which since 1950 has provided dairy leaders with a better understanding of issues facing farmers and their co-ops. This week, the YC program is hosting its capstone event in Washington, combined with the program's annual fly-in to Capitol Hill.
U.S. Well-Positioned to Serve the Globe, Economists Say
As its competitors move to constrain – if not roll back – their own dairy production, United States dairy producers are well-positioned to become the preferred supplier to growing international dairy markets, two top dairy economists said in an NMPF podcast.
New Zealand and the European Union, the main U.S. competitors on global dairy markets, aren’t as focused on sustainably feeding the world as the United States, said William Loux, vice president of global economic affairs for the U.S. Dairy Export Council.
“You see countries like the Netherlands driving programs to reduce dairy cows by 30 percent,” he said. “That's not really necessarily in the spirit of, ‘Hey, there's a globe right now that is demanding dairy products. How do we do that sustainably?’ which I think is the U.S. perspective. So, as we go forward, the US really should be the one to capture this global dairy demand as we increase our exports overall.”
Loux is joined in the podcast by Stephen Cain, director of economic research and analysis at NMPF. Cain detailed current trade challenges U.S. producers face, including continued supply chain difficulties involving China.
“We're still having some issues getting product out of the West Coast of the United States, but a growing issue that's taken place over the last six weeks has really been the buildup and the backlog into Chinese ports, especially outside Shanghai,” Cain said. “COVID-induced lockdowns throughout the region have grown in number and intensity and the amount of people that are being locked down. That's effectively shut down some of these ports.”
Dairy Progress Possible on Capitol Hill, NMPF’s Bleiberg Says
With rising energy costs and a war effort riveting attention in Washington, 2022 is turning out to be an unusually busy year on Capitol Hill – one that holds opportunity for dairy, said Paul Bleiberg, Senior Vice President of Government Relations for the National Milk Producers Federation, in a Dairy Defined podcast.
“Election years can sometimes be quiet in a lot of ways. But there's still a lot of sausage making that goes on,” he said. “We are hopeful that we'll see some progress on supply chain legislation, in particular the Ocean Shipping Reform Act that our trade team has worked really hard on, to move forward in a variety of different contexts. And then that farm bill process is just going to get more and more significant as the date gets closer.”
Bleiberg also in the podcast discusses the prospects for “climate-smart” agricultural legislation to pass Congress this year and looks at gains for dairy in recent spending legislation.
Dairy a Sustainability Leader, USDA’s Bonnie Says
Dairy has long been an agricultural leader in efforts to enhance sustainability and combat climate change, said Robert Bonnie, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm Production and Conservation.
Even during times when farmers had questions about how climate policy was evolving, “Dairy stayed engaged, and continued to look for ways to, advance opportunities for, for producers,” Bonnie said. “That is notable and really important.”
Bonnie in the podcast explains USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities initiative that it rolled out last month, as well as how climate-smart agriculture programs may evolve and expand. He also notes that the farmer signup deadline for the Dairy Margin Coverage Program ends March 25, encouraging dairy producers to participate.
“One of the things USDA is really interested in, is making sure we have better data to make that case, to drive a narrative that demonstrates that agriculture can be part of a solution that it already is, that has already done things, and that there's more to do and that agriculture is engaged,” he said. “I think driving that narrative to the broader public is really important.”
Progress on Ports Problems
Bottlenecks at U.S. ports and their impact on agricultural exports took center stage at the National Press Club last week, with a webinar sponsored by the National Milk Producers Federation, the U.S. Dairy Export Council, and Agri-Pulse. This week’s podcast features Krysta Harden, president and CEO of USDEC, moderating a panel from the webinar featuring USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack; John Porcari, the Biden Administration’s Supply Chain Ports Envoy; Reps. John Garamendi (D-CA) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD), co-sponsor of a House of Representatives ports bill.
Vilsack at the panel announced a new initiative adding access for U.S. agricultural exports at the Port of Oakland. Vilsack also noted the importance of the public understanding that ports backlogs don’t only affect shipments of consumer goods.
“We hope to be able to make sure that people understand this isn't just an import issue, it's also an export issue,” Vilsack said at the event. “And the Department of Agriculture wants to be part of the solution.”