May 21, 2024

House Agriculture Committee

More Farm Bill Dairy Title Details

House Agriculture Committee Chairman GT Thompson, R-PA, released the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024 bill text alongside a further title-by-title summary. This represents an important step forward, and the National Farmers Union issued a statement welcoming the procedural progress but noting concerns with the policy.


Farmers Union action alert on the farm bill is now live. Please share this alert widely to reiterate our priorities with House of Representatives members!


The Committee plans a full committee markup of this bill on Thursday, May 23. NFU’s Government Relations Team is currently reviewing the 962-page bill, but much has been learned in the hours since it dropped this morning. Below is a mini-deep dive into key provisions of the bill.

The bill's dairy provisions focus on expanding coverage under Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) by increasing DMC Tier 1 from 5 million pounds of milk to 6 million pounds. The bill also directs USDA to change the Class I milk price formula back to the “higher-of” classes III or IV. However, there are no dairy growth management initiatives in this bill. The bill provides an opportunity to update DMC's production history, including a 25% discount on DMC premiums for operations that enroll in coverage for the life of the 2024 Farm Bill. The bill mandates biennial cost surveys to ensure make allowances accurately reflect the cost of manufacturing dairy products. 


The mark contains references to the A-PLUS Act (H.R.530) a bill supported by the Livestock Marketing Association, that allows certain auction market owners to hold an ownership interest in small packing facilities, which is prohibited under the Packers and Stockyards Act. Otherwise, no significant competition issues are mentioned in the overview.


No provision appears to have been included to prevent USDA from completing the ongoing Packers and Stockyards Act (P&S Act) rulemakings. However, it remains a possibility such a provision could be offered as an amendment during the markup.


The bill also includes limited provisions from the Strengthening Local Processing Act of 2023 (H.R. 945) that National Farmers Union endorsed. These provisions would help small and very small meat processing establishments with their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans and increase USDA outreach on the Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) program.

California Dairy Campaign has urged members of Congress to call for a return to the "higher of" in the Class I Pricing Formula, which is included in Chairman Thompson's farm bill proposal. CDC also supports mandatory manufacturing costs surveys, which are also included in the chairman's bill. In addition, CDC called attention to the failure of the existing DMC eligibility criteria to cover the majority of California's milk production.

2023 California Federal Order

Annual Report

Federal Order 51’s 2023 Annual Bulletin

The California Federal Order (FO) publishes an Annual Statistical Bulletin, containing tables and charts on FO 51 pool data and prices. The Annual Bulletin also provides a summary of the monthly newsletters, order trends, and a map of the handlers regulated in the marketing area. Access to FO 51’s Annual Statistical Bulletin can be found at: monthly-newsletter/.

California Federal Order Pool Utilization changed dramatically since the order began. During April 2024, 72.4 percent of all milk pooled was Class III milk. According to the report, Class III and IV utilization trends in 2023 were relatively similar to those in 2022. With a lower Class III price, pooling incentives for most of 2023 favored Class III over Class IV. Class III volume averaged about 1.38 billion pounds per month in 2023, an increase of 156.8 million pounds from 2022. Class III volume on a daily average basis reached its highest level recorded under the Order in August 2023 at 49.44 million pounds per day. Class III volume was above 1 billion pounds in every month of 2023 except in April. On average, Class III utilization was 64 percent of the pool

Class Prices – All class prices mirrored the commodity and component price trends. The average Class I price decreased $4.46 per hundredweight (cwt) from 2022 to $21.30 for the year. The average Class II price fell $5.17 per cwt from 2022 to $20.10. The Class III price averaged $17.02 per cwt in 2023, down $4.94 from 2022. The average Class IV price declined by the largest agnitude, decreasing $5.35 per cwt from the prior year to $19.12 in 2023. Averages for the 2023 class prices remained at or above 2021 price levels reflecting improvements in the market and new market stability with current supply and demand conditions.

Agriculture Appropriations

The fiscal year 2025 (FY25) annual appropriations process is shaping up to be even more fraught than FY24.


It is an election year, and some members of the House Freedom Caucus have already called for punting the FY25 bill to next year to give a potential new president leverage. Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and the new House Appropriations chair, Tom Cole (R-OK) say they want to clear the decks and finish FY25 appropriations this year. But the House and Senate are far apart on spending levels.


The House just released its subcommittee spending allocations last Thursday, and the numbers—with an overall non-defense decrease of 6 percent—are far below what some Senate Appropriations leaders have signaled will be needed.


Chairman Cole has allocated $25.8 billion to the ag-FDA spending bill, a decrease from the $26.2 billion allocated in FY24. Markups have also been scheduled, with June 11 being the day for the ag-FDA subcommittee and the full House Appropriations Committee markup expected on July 10.


While still early in the annual federal funding process, the deadline to submit funding requests to the House and Senate Appropriations ag-FDA subcommittees has already passed. NFU submitted its testimony last week with requests related to Fairness for Farmers, climate change and conservation, farm stress, cooperatives, food safety, and research.


Here is a rundown of NFU’s FY25 requests:

  • Fairness for Farmers: NFU’s primary focus once again is defending USDA’s Packers & Stockyards Act (P&S Act) rulemakings from interference. NFU and allies defeated the attempt to torpedo the rulemakings in the FY24 process, but we expect the same attempt in FY25. NFU also thanked the committee for the $2.5 million increase in funding for P&S Act enforcement in FY24 and asked for an additional $5 million in FY25.
  • Climate change and conservation: NFU and allies requested increased funding, at the $1.2 billion level, for USDA’s voluntary, incentive-based conservation programs and technical assistance. Twenty-six senators, led by Senators Bennet (D-CO) and Chris Coons (D-DE), signed a Dear Colleague letter making the same request. NFU also requested $30 million for the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI). Additionally, NFU led the effort to ensure the broad-based Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA) included these in its FY25 request. 
  • Farm stress: NFU requested full authorized funding for the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN). To bolster this request, NFU led a stakeholder letter effort in partnership with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA). This letter, which NFU has led to help secure funding for multiple appropriations cycles, was again signed by more than 30 agriculture, rural, and public health organizations.
  • Cooperative development: NFU requested at least $15 million for grants through the Rural Cooperative Development Grants (RCDG) program for Cooperative Development Centers. Funding for these centers has remained flat, around $6 million per year, for the last several funding cycles.
  • Food safety education, outreach, and technical assistance: NFU requested ongoing funding to ensure farmers have the information, tools, and support they need to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), including ongoing funding from FDA and full funding for USDA’s Food Safety Outreach Program (FSOP).
  • Agricultural research: NFU requested fully authorized funding of $60 million for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, the only farmer-driven research program at USDA. NFU also joined nearly 100 groups in a letter requesting this funding.


In addition to agriculture appropriations, NFU is supporting an effort to ensure strong funding for antitrust enforcement. This includes requesting robust funding, consistent with the President’s budget request, for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Antitrust Division. The request also seeks the removal of the rider included in the FY24 Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill that removes the DOJ Antitrust Division’s direct access to merger filing fees, which are essential for combatting mergers and rise and fall with increased or decreased merger activity.

(Source: National Farmers Union)

California Cattle Council Hearing

June 11, 2024, in Sacramento, CA

The California Cattle Council hearing is set for June 11 in Sacramento, CA. Testimony is due by June 6 and can be submitted by mail or email to California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDA) staff Ben Kardokus.

California Dairy Campaign and California Farmers Union plan to testify against continuing the $1 per head CCC checkoff.

The refund provision in the measure is overly cumbersome by requiring beef and dairy producers to request a refund each time a cow is sold. Instead, beef and dairy producers should have the option to voluntarily contribute additional checkoff dollars instead of being burdened with time-consuming refund requests. More information can be found on the CCC website

Contact California Dairy Campaign for more information about how to submit testimony to call for an end to the California Cattle Council checkoff. California dairy producers already pay more than any other farmers in checkoff fees.

Contact the California Dairy Campaign office at 209-632-0885

or email us at

Kings County Farm Bureau Sues

State Water Board

The Kings County Farm Bureau and two of its farmer members have filed suit against the state Water Resources Control Board, claiming the board exceeded its jurisdiction when it placed the Tulare Lake groundwater subbasin on probation April 16.

A writ of mandate was filed May 15 in Kings County Superior Court. A writ is an order asking a governmental body, in this case the Water Board, to cease an action. The farm bureau is asking the board to vacate the resolution, which was passed unanimously.

“The board’s decision to place the (Tulare Lake Subbasin) on probation violated the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and expanded the board’s authority beyond its jurisdiction,” a Kings County Farm Bureau press release states. The causes of action are: 

  • The deficiencies in the designation are not supported by findings of fact and lack evidence 
  • The inability to claim the “good actor clause” and escape probation lacks facts and evidence
  • The Water Board violated the equal protection clause of the constitution by treating landowners differently from others without any rational basis for the difference in treatment
  • Probation is unlawful and exceeds the Water Board’s authority under SGMA
  • The Water Board failed to properly notice landowners of the probationary hearing 
  • Groundwater extraction fees are an unlawful tax and violate the state constitution 
  • The amended SGMA fee schedule of $20 per acre-foot of extracted groundwater violates the state constitution

The full story is linked here.

All the Latest on Water Issues

California Dairy Campaign and California Farmers Union are calling on farmers to participate in their local Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA). Decisions are being made right now that will greatly affect access to water in the future. Some of the measures will pass if landowners do not submit their ballots in time because if a landowner does not file a protest vote, that parcel of land could be considered a "Yes" vote. Our field staff is updating dairy producers about GSA activities in each area.

Below, please find the web link for information

about your local GSA.

For More Information, Contact

the California Dairy Campaign Office at 209-632-0885.


Dairy Plus Field Days

Join Us for the Field Days: 10 AM - 12 PM, Lunch to Follow

• May 16 – Subsurface Drip Irrigation, Merced County - REGISTER

• May 23 – Vermifiltration, Fresno County - REGISTER

• May 30 – Weeping Wall, Tulare County - REGISTER

AMMP, Dairy Plus, and DDRDP

Signup Happening Soon

The signup process for the Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP), Dairy Plus, and the Dairy Digester Research and Development program will begin this spring. It is never too soon to start preparing your application. Each program requires an application, so it’s important to start this process (engineer design, permits, talking with vendors, working with financial institutions) as soon as possible.

Contact California Dairy Campaign Field Representatives

Joe Melo and Lisandra Vitorino for more information and to get started on your application.

Contact the CDC Office at 209-632-0885.

For More Information

Contact Executive Director

Lynne McBride

California Dairy Campaign

California Farmers Union

325 Mitchell Avenue

Turlock, CA 95380

Phone: 209-632-0885

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