Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How the Government Shutdown & expired Farm Bill impacts our Dairy

How does the government shutdown and an expired Farm Bill impact our dairy farm? That’s a question I was recently asked by two television news producers. Both were under the impression the government shutdown was “impacting what dairy farmers receive in subsidies”.

I told them the current government shutdown wasn’t having any impact on our dairy farm. And that the Farm Bill has very little impact on our farm. The current Farm Bill, and the proposed Farm Bill, don't provide an annual subsidy for dairy farmers. The safety net program, called MILC, kicks in only when the margin between milk price and feed costs reaches a very low level. In years when the MILC program is available, the MILC revenue equals less than 1% of our total farm income. The majority of the Farm Bill is food programs for low income families, not programs for farmers.

After hearing my thoughts on how government dairy subsidies don’t have much impact on our farm, both news producers decided I was not the right person to interview for their story. 

A visitor to our farm recently asked me about the Farm Bill. He was under the impression that farmers are spending a lot of time and effort to get a Farm Bill passed in order to continue receiving subsidies. I shared with him the limited role government payments have on our bottom line. 

With all the time and effort agriculture organizations spend lobbying congress to pass a Farm Bill, it’s no wonder people think we depend on the Farm Bill for subsidies and financial survival.

As I’ve shared in previous posts, the federal government’s involvement in farm programs should be limited to; 1) Disaster relief programs that provide a safety net to farmers in the case of a natural disaster, 2) Regulatory oversight for food safety, quality and labeling standards, and 3) Research and development via the USDA and the University system.

The federal government should not provide subsidies or direct payments to farmers. They should not create policy that mandates the demand of a specific commodity i.e. corn ethanol.

It’s embarrassing to me that people think farmers are trying so hard to pass Farm Bill because it enables us to receive government handouts!

Other blogs I’ve written on this topic:
How will the 2012 Farm Bill Impact Dairy Farmers?

Government Subsidized Ethanol Leads to Government Subsidized Milk

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