Press Release, Congressman Chris Collins
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today voted for the 2018 Farm Bill that he said will strengthen and grow the Western New York dairy economy. In recent years, the dairy industry has faced significant challenges, including an overall decline in milk consumption due to unfair trade practices with nations like Canada. Provisions in the Farm Bill make commonsense reforms to safety net programs put in place to help farmers during a downturn.
Collins has been a staunch advocate for expanding the current H-2A visa program that has not met the need of dairy farmers to find a legal, experienced workforce. Provisions to address issues with visas were not included, although Collins was assured by House Leadership that a separate bill to solve these problems will be considered in July.
“Our nation’s dairy farmers are struggling and we have to do everything we can to keep this industry alive in Western New York,” said Collins. “I’ve met with local farmers who have told me on numerous occasions that the Margin Protection Program was simply not working and was based on flawed logic. The reforms passed in today’s bill are going to help these farmers better utilize this program as we continue to make reforms that will boost this industry.”
This legislation would provide greater coverage to dairy farmers through the Margin Protection Program (MPP) and will allow a farmer to participate in both the livestock and dairy protection programs. Additionally, the program will be relabeled the Dairy Risk Management Program (DRMP).
The newly created DRMP eliminates the current 25% minimum coverage level and allows producers to elect levels in 5% increments. It will also add higher coverage levels of $8.50 and $9.00 per CWT, a provision Collins advocated for in a 2017 letter to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (TX-11).
The legislation will also require the United States Department of Agriculture to study the accuracy of milk and feed costs used to determine the margin. This was implemented in response to the large amount of farmers that were unable to utilize the program because of ineffective calculations.
“Since I have gotten elected to Congress, our region’s agriculture industry has been a main priority and I’m committed to continuing to do what is best for our farmers,” Collins said. “While we still have work to do to turn this industry around, I’m pleased with the reforms we passed today.”
For more information on H.R. 2, Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, click here.