On Dec. 12, Congress passed the Conference Report for the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, better known as the farm bill. The bill now awaits signing by President Trump.

The American Dairy Coalition said it applauds Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Rep. Michael Conaway (R-Texas) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) — all agriculture-oriented leaders — for their hard work to advance the bill through both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The bill represents a solid step forward in aiding farmers struggling with poor market conditions and many other daily challenges, the Green Bay, Wis.-based farmer-led organization said.

The new farm bill enhances assistance to farmers when the market price for corn, soybeans, wheat, etc., falls to critically low levels, the American Dairy Coalition said, as well as provides access to more risk-management tools for dairy operations. It also improves vital disaster programs, continues the commitment to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) by increasing funding for EQIP to $2.025 billion by fiscal year 2023, fosters innovation through Conservation Innovation Grants, and builds on the success of international food aid and food security efforts.

Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), a Kansas City, Kan.-headquartered cooperative owned by family dairy farmers across the United States, also said is pleased that by the passing of the farm bill, which includes several important changes to the Margin Protection Program, now called the Dairy Margin Coverage program.

“Along with our more than 14,500 dairy farmer-members, we urge the president to take quick action and sign the bill into law before the end of the year,” DFA said.

The bill’s improved risk management tools are welcome, said John Wilson, senior vice president and chief fluid marketing officer at DFA.

“We hope that a rapid approval of the bill will provide our farmers with a bit of relief and more options as we head into 2019,” he said. “The bill also includes a program that allow farmers, processors and cooperatives to work together to donate milk to food banks and feeding organizations in their community.

“Another program incentivizes milk purchases by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients,” Wilson added. “These programs ensure the hungriest in our nation have access to nutrient-dense milk, which is a win-win for farmers and consumers alike.”