With potential concessions to cooperatives and support for dairy farmers, the U.S. Senate passed a two-year budget deal Wednesday and sent it to the House of Representatives.
As part of that deal, the Senate was set to vote today on a continuing resolution to fund the government through March 23.
The deal, called the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA), eliminates caps on crop insurance policies for livestock producers and provides more than $90 billion for emergency disaster aid.
“Of great importance to dairy farmers is a provision that would create opportunities for additional money for them and other livestock producers,” said John Kran, national lobbyist with Michigan Farm Bureau.
The deals could impact the impending farm bill by modifying the Margin Protection Program to include lower premium rates and monthly margin calculations, and would increase Tier 1 coverage to 5 million pounds of production history.
Sign-up for the 2018 MPP coverage would be reopened for 90 days following the bill’s signing.
“The dairy provision is welcome news to our milk producers,” said Ernie Birchmeier, dairy and livestock specialist with Michigan Farm Bureau. “The MPP program was in dire need of changes, and hopefully, this action by Congress will be palatable for our Michigan farmers who need to keep their operations viable until the dairy economy improves, which is, unfortunately, not expected in the immediate future.”
Of equal importance for farmers, Birchmeier said, is that the $20 million cap on livestock related expenditures under the Federal Crop Insurance Program would be removed – providing more risk management options for cattle, swine, lamb and dairy farmers.
Keep in mind, Kran said, that negotiations are ongoing, and things can change dramatically.
“We hope we’re on our way to a budget that can be beneficial to agriculture,” he said, “but nothing is final until the bill is signed. Things can change in Washington very quickly.”
The House was expected to vote on the final bills late today.