With some new faces headed to Washington, D.C., after last month’s election, both Congress and the White House will likely shift their top priorities to tackle in the coming months and years. So how does agriculture and, more specifically, dairy fit into those plans?

That’s the question weighing heavily on the minds of the nation’s farmers and farm groups as final positions are filled with appointments and run-off elections over the next few weeks. To get a pulse on some of those thoughts, viewers of the December 2 Hoard’s Dairyman DairyLivestream were asked what big picture federal topic they felt was most important to dairy.

Over 100 farmers and industry personnel responded, with just over half deciding that trade was the most important issue for the government to address.

Both labor concerns and the environment garnered 21% of the vote, and nutrition came in a distant fourth place.

Trade will see some changes, explained Dave Carlin of the International Dairy Foods Association. The Biden administration is going to be more aligned on multilateral trade agreements with many countries, as opposed to the Trump administration mostly dealing in bilateral agreements between two countries. “I do think trade is something the new administration is going to have to address early, though, because the Trade Promotion Authority to get trade agreements through Congress expires on June 30 next year,” Carlin said. “So, if we’re going to get that reauthorized, the new administration is going to have to work and engage with Congress to try to get that done to preserve their ability to do trade deals around the world.”

Looking for change

To dial in deeper on what farmers need, DairyLivestream viewers were also asked what they are hoping for from this new Congress. The Federal Milk Marketing Orders garnered the most attention.

That may prove easier said than done, though. Paul Bleiberg, senior vice president of Government Relations for the National Milk Producers Federation, described that getting a consensus on reforms among representatives and senators, unfamiliar with federal orders and from different parts of the country, will be very difficult.

“I think it’s hard for Congress to get involved with federal orders, first of all, because they’re so arcane that virtually no congressional staff, maybe one or two, have any knowledge of them. Number two, they’re such regionally broken out issues that you almost immediately have all kinds of regional issues that you wouldn’t be able to put back in the box,” he explained.

“It’s really hard to do because the staff expertise isn’t there, and if you try to manage that in a farm bill, you’d come up with 500 new ways to tank the farm bill because no one would be in agreement,” Bleiberg continued.

An ongoing series of events

DairyLivestream will air twice each month for the remainder of this year. The next broadcast, “The 2021 dairy market outlook,” will be on Wednesday, December 9 at 11 a.m. CST. Each episode is designed for panelists to answer over 30 minutes of audience questions. If you haven’t joined a DairyLivestream broadcast yet, register here. Registering once registers you for all future events.

To comment, email your remarks to intel@hoards.com.
(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2020
December 7, 2020
Subscribe to Hoard's Dairyman Intel by clicking the button below