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Dairy Policy and the Next Farm Bill
AEI
2023.05.23
Dairy policy has been central to farm bills for nine decades and will be again in this round: Dairy products comprise a major share of consumer diets, farm milk accounts for about 10 percent of farm sales, and dairy feed production uses millions of acres of corn, soybeans, hay, silage, other harvested crops, and pasture.
The US dairy industry has become an export success in part because policy changes enabled the sector to be more responsive to market forces and facilitated productivity growth.
The Dairy Margin Coverage program, which pays subsidies to farms when milk prices are low relative to an index of dairy feed prices, slows slightly the exit of some unprofitable farms and delays productivity-enhancing consolidation.
Federal Milk Marketing Orders, a byzantine array of regulations that raise beverage milk prices, and other policies that affect dairy production, such as farm animal treatment rules, are also likely to be addressed in the farm bill.