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MFB, NMPF: Budget Package Food for Ag and Consumers
Michigan Ag Connection - 02/12/2018

Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) is applauding House and Senate negotiators for reaching a budget compromise early this morning, noting the final package addresses many desperately needed reforms to dairy and crop insurance programs.

According to MFB National Legislative Counsel John Kran, the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) eliminates caps on crop insurance policies for livestock producers and provides emergency disaster aid for farmers impacted by hurricanes and wildfires in 2017.

"We appreciate the efforts by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and her colleagues on the Senate and House Agriculture Committees for working to include provisions critical to disaster relief and also to assist the dairy and livestock industry," said Kran. "The agreement includes improvements to the Margin Protection Program and expands the opportunity for insurance options moving forward."

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall also praised the budget deal signed by President Trump, saying the agricultural disaster provisions will help America's farmers and support food security for all Americans.

"The measure assists farmers affected by natural disasters," said Duvall. "Last year's fires and hurricanes were devastating for many farmers. This disaster assistance is much needed so that affected producers can recover and continue to help feed, house, fuel and clothe our consumers."

According to Kran, revisions to the Margin Protection Program for dairy producers, who are currently struggling with historically low prices, include lower premium rates and monthly margin calculations, and would increase Tier 1 coverage to 5 million pounds of production history.

Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation said, "The votes early Friday in both the House and Senate to pass a budget bill containing major improvements to the dairy safety net are an important victory for America's dairy farmers. The enhancements to the Margin Protection Program (MPP), coupled with the expansion of additional risk management options, are coming at a crucial time for our producers. Farmers need insurance options that are both effective and affordable, and the disaster package helps deliver on that promise.

"We again thank Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) for spearheading these reforms to the MPP, as well as Sens. Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) for their support. We also very much appreciate the efforts of Reps. Mike Conaway (R-TX) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) for crafting important language to remove the existing cap on livestock insurance products, including the Livestock Gross Margin-Dairy program.

In addition to assisting dairy and livestock, Farm Bureau's Kran says the budget package includes $20 billion earmarked for infrastructure improvement such as highways and bridge construction and repair, water and wastewater projects, and rural broadband.

"The budget package also addresses two other items critical to agriculture--$6 billion to fight the opioid addiction crisis and an extension of important energy tax provisions, which were not included in the tax reform bill," he said.

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