2024 Farm Bill Priorities

Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) Program
The Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) Program has proven to be a critical risk management tool for dairy farmers. The voluntary program gives participating dairy farmers the ability to manage risks associated with changes in the margin between milk prices and feed costs. The program was established in the 2018 Farm Bill as a successor program to the inadequate Margin Protection Program (MPP). In the new Farm Bill, the DMC should be continued with the following updates:

  • The 5-million-pound annual production threshold (fewer than 200 cows) between Tier I premiums and the higher Tier II premiums should be updated to reflect the growth in average dairy herd size, which is now about 360 cows. 

  • The production history used under the DMC program has been based on a herd’s highest production from 2011, 2012 or 2013. However, we are very pleased that when Congress extended the DMC program as part of the 1-year Farm Bill extension in November of 2023, a provision was included to allow smaller-scale dairy farmers with under 5 million pounds of established DMC production history to update their production history based on their 2019 actual production. This provision essentially rolled the separate Supplemental DMC program into the base DMC program. However, the provision also includes a 75 percent proration of the benefits of this production history increase. When Congress writes the new Farm Bill, the DMC production history provisions should be updated to allow DMC participants to update their production history to more recent levels without any proration.

  • The Midwest Dairy Coalition has endorsed the Dairy Farm Resiliency Act (H.R. 4125), introduced by Reps. Molinaro (R-NY), Slotkin (D-MI), Van Orden (R-WI), and Spanberger (D-VA). The bill would allow dairy farmers to update their DMC production history to more recent levels and would modestly increase the amount of milk eligible for lower premiums under Tier I of the DMC. 

  • The Committee should also consider increasing the top DMC margin level from $9.50 to $10.00 per hundredweight to partially reflect the increased costs of non-feed inputs used by dairy farmers. Variable feed costs are already captured in the base margin calculation formula of the DMC. 

Federal Milk Marketing Order Modernization
The federal milk marketing order (FMMO) system has not been significantly updated since 2008. Because of the complexity of the system and the inter-related nature of all the aspects of the pricing system, the Midwest Dairy Coalition supports a full-scale review and modernization of the system.

 Changes to the FMMO system should be made through the robust FMMO administrative hearing process developed by Congress to fully consider all perspectives and potential repercussions of proposed changes, as opposed to having Congress mandate specific federal order changes legislatively. In late January 2024, the longest-ever Federal Milk Marketing Order hearing concluded. This hearing process has been conducted by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service using a procedure established by Congress. Many Midwest Dairy Coalition member cooperatives have been actively engaged in that hearing process. The next steps in the FMMO reform process will conclude in 2025, when dairy farmers will have a chance to vote on USDA’s proposed reforms to the pricing system. 

 We urge Congress to allow the FMMO reform process underway through USDA to reach its conclusion in 2025 without any legislative intervention. However, one important aspect to FMMO reform does require a statutory update. Specifically, the Farm Bill should include a provision to require USDA to conduct mandatory plant-cost studies every two years, a critical step to ensure that the “make allowance” data used to calculate milk prices under the FMMO system are accurate and regularly updated. Statutory change is needed to authorize this survey.

Other Legislation Supported by the Midwest Dairy Coalition

Dairy PRIDE Act (S. 549, H.R. 1462)
Truth in Labeling for Non-Dairy Beverages: FDA Standards of Identity
Currently, FDA regulations require products labeled as milk, yogurt, ice cream and cheese to be produced from dairy animals. Unfortunately, FDA has not enforced those regulations, which has resulted in many plant, nut-based or lab-generated products being inappropriately labeled using dairy terms. Consumers are often unaware that the nutritional attributes of milk and other dairy products far exceed those of non-dairy beverages.

In recognition of this problem, in February of 2023, FDA released a proposed guidance on the labeling of plant-based beverages which falls far short of what dairy producers want or consumers deserve, and equally short of full enforcement of FDA’s own standards of identity regulations for milk labeling. One portion of FDA’s proposal does improve the consumer marketplace, which is a requirement for front-of-packaging disclosures by plant-based beverages of their inferiority to dairy. As guidance, this does not have the same strength as regulation.

Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the Senate and House to require FDA to fully enforce its own regulations by prohibiting the use of dairy terms on non-dairy products labels.

Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act (H.R. 1147/S.1957)
The Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act, as introduced by Reps. G.T. Thompson (R-PA) and Kim Schrier (D-WA) in the House, will allow whole and reduced-fat milk to again be served in the School Meals Program. The Senate version of the bill was introduced by Senators Marshall (R-KS) and Welch (D-VT). In December of 2023, the House passed the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act by a vote of 330-99. The bill is awaiting action by the Senate.  

Dairy Nutrition Incentive Program (S. 1474/H.R. 5099)
The Healthy Fluid Milk Incentive Projects program was authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill to incentivize the purchase of fluid milk under the SNAP program for low-income individuals and families. The Dairy Nutrition Incentives Program, introduced by Senators Klobuchar (D-MN) and Marshall (R-KS) in the Senate and Reps. Costa (D-CA) and Langworthy (R-NY) in the House, would broaden that program to include SNAP incentives for yogurt and cheese, in addition to fluid milk. The bill also provides the program with more stable funding.

Safeguarding American Value-Added Exports (SAVE) Act (S. 1652 /H.R. 3423)
Protecting the Ability to Use Common Cheese Names in Export Markets

The Safeguarding American Value-Added Exports (SAVE) Act directs USDA to work with the U.S. Trade Representative in proactively protecting common food names like “parmesan” and “feta” from the European Union’s abuse of its geographical indications (GIs) system.

Led by Senators. Thune (R-SD) and Baldwin (D-WI) in the Senate and Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-SD) and Jim Costa (D-CA) in the House, the aim is for the language to be folded into the Farm Bill as a first-of-its-kind effort to counter the EU’s continued attempts to monopolize generic terms in key dairy export markets around the world. Specifically, the legislation will amend the Agricultural Trade Act of 1978 and direct USDA to establish a list of common names frequently subject to GI misuse, and coordinate with USTR to use trade agreement negotiations, memoranda of understanding, or exchanges of letters with foreign trading partners, to defend the right to use common names for agricultural commodities.

Farmers First Act (S. 1736/H.R. 6379)
The Farmers First Act, introduced by Senators Baldwin (D-WI) and Ernst (R-IA) in the Senate and Reps. Feenstra (R-IA) and Costa (D-CA) in the House, would reauthorize the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Program (FRSAN) through 2028. Four regional centers established through FRSAN are increasing access to farm stress services across the U.S. by coordinating efforts to serve the unique needs of the populations in each region.

Dairy Business Innovation Act (S. 2267/H.R. 4894)
Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Congressman Derrick Van Orden (R-WI) introduced the Dairy Business Innovation Act of 2023, to reauthorize and strengthen the Dairy Business Innovation (DBI) Initiatives to help more American dairy farmers and processors add value to their businesses, including creating new products, expanding their markets, and modernizing their production facilities.

Innovative Feed Enhancement and Economic Development (FEED) Act (S. 1842/H.R. 6687)
Senators Marshall (R-KS) and Baldwin (D-WI) and Rep. Pence (R-IA) introduced bipartisan legislation to establish a new pathway at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for novel feed additives to increase livestock efficiency and production. This will allow U.S. dairy farmers to continue to innovate, including through their ongoing sustainability efforts.

Agriculture Labor Policy and Dairy Farms
Foreign-born workers are a critical part of the U.S. dairy economy and the communities where they live. While border security is important, establishing a clear process for immigrant dairy workers to establish legal status is critical. The Midwest Dairy Coalition supports agriculture labor reform legislation to:

  • Provide an affordable and efficient guest-worker program that ensures the continued availability of immigrant labor for all of agriculture, including dairies; and

  • Permit those currently employed or with employment history in the U.S. to earn the right to work here legally, regardless of their current legal status.

In the past Congress, the Midwest Dairy Coalition supported the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 1603), as passed by the House in March 2021 but never passed the Senate.

Past Updates

Giving a Voice to Producers


The Midwest Dairy Coalition is an alliance of dairy cooperatives representing Upper Midwest dairy producers on federal dairy policy issues.

Midwest Dairy Coalition Joins in Support of Food and Nutrition Service Proposal   

Latest Updates

The Midwest Dairy Coalition has joined other producer associations and dairy farmer-owned cooperatives in signing onto a letter of support for the restoration of schools' option to offer low-fat flavored milk with school males, and in other nutrition programs, as proposed by the Food and Nutrition Service in the Federal Register on November 25, 2020.

Opposition to discriminatory pricing policies


Historically, federal dairy policy has penalized regions like the Upper Midwest by establishing policies that discriminate against manufactured dairy products, such as cheese, that are the mainstay of our region's dairy industry.

The Coalition has built a long history of working to end such discrimination, and promote policies that provide benefits to producers without regard to the end use of milk..

Promoting National Approaches to Dairy Policy

The Coalition has been instrumental in the creation of national dairy policies that effectively provide a counter-cyclical safety net for dairy producers in all regions. The Coalition's approach to policy has been extremely helpful to rural economies of dairy-dependent Upper Midwestern states.

The Midwest Dairy Coalition earlier called upon USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to take action in response to the growing impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation's dairy farmers and throughout the dairy industry supply chain.

On April 29, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue replied to the Coalition's request, indicating refusal to re-open the Dairy Margin Coverage program, while outlining steps the department was taking to use direct payments and commodity purchases it believed would provide some certainty to farmers and consumers.

USDA Replies to Coalition's Request for Action on COVID-19 Impacts