Budget bill gives relief to cotton and dairy producers
On Feb. 9 Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act, which funded the federal government through March 23 and established discretionary funding levels for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, among other things. The bill, which President Trump signed into law on Feb. 9, included provisions amending the 2014 Farm Bill to designate seed cotton as a covered commodity and improve to dairy support programs. The legislation also included $90 billion in disaster assistance for those affected by weather and wildfire disasters in 2017.
Eleven of Georgia’s 14 House members and both senators voted in favor of the bill, which passed the House by a 240-186 vote and the Senate by a 71-28 vote.
Under the cotton provision, seed cotton – unginned cotton – would be eligible for either Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2018 crop year. Cotton growers have suffered from an extended period of low commodity prices.
“This measure will provide cotton producers and lenders some certainty as they prepare for the 2018 growing season,” National Cotton Council President Ronnie Lee said. “The new policy will help ease the financial burden as producers struggle to cover
The seed cotton provisions eliminate generic base acres for the 2018 crop year. According to the Georgia Peanut Commission, growers will have to choose whether to move generic acres to seed cotton or use their 2009-2012 crop year history and convert generic acres to acres for other covered commodities. To download the 2018 seed cotton generic base and payment yield updating calculator, visit www.gapeanuts.com.
The milk provisions reduce premiums for dairy farmers under the Margin Protection Program (MPP) and streamline payments in response to increases in feed costs, according to an article on Feedstuffs.com. The MPP was intended to assist dairies when their cost of production exceeds prices they receive for their milk, but producers have complained that it has not worked as intended. The $20 million crop insurance cap for livestock producers was eliminated as well—a reform that could open the door to new policies designed specifically for dairy farmers, according to Politico.
National Milk Producers Federation President Jim Mulhern called the bill’s passage a “major victory for America’s dairy farmers. The enhancements to the Margin Production Program, coupled with the expansion of additional risk management options, are coming at a crucial time for our producers.”