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Spanberger Urges USDA to Assist Central Virginia Dairy Farmers Facing Harmful Conditions, Joins Bipartisan Push on Dairy Program Implementation

In Letter to USDA Secretary Perdue, the Congresswoman Urged the USDA to Prioritize Implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill’s Dairy Provisions to Address Uncertainty Among Dairy Producers

Henrico, V.A., March 29, 2019

HENRICO, V.A. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger is pushing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide relief to Central Virginia dairy producers and to implement provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill that can provide much-needed assistance to the region’s dairy farmers and their families.

Over the last 10 years, the United States has lost over one-third of licensed dairy farms. In a letter sent to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, Spanberger and a bipartisan group of her colleagues urged the USDA to provide swift financial assistance to dairy farmers. Especially as dairy farms continue to close and consolidate in Central Virginia and across the country, Spanberger called on Secretary Perdue to prioritize the swift implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill’s dairy provisions—particularly the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

“Central Virginia dairy farmers are facing tough financial conditions within the current farm economy, as low prices and increased production costs have threatened the ability of our dairy farms to stay afloat. Last year’s version of the Farm Bill showed that Congress was listening to the significant challenges facing the dairy industry. But now, the USDA needs to make clear that it’s committed to following through on implementation,” said Spanberger. “As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, I’m proud to stand up for our hardworking dairy farmers and their families and to push for improved affordable coverage options. Right now, I’m calling on Secretary Perdue to fast-track implementation—because livelihoods are on the line. We need to immediately strengthen our dairy safety net, and I’ll keep fighting in a bipartisan way to do just that.”

In their letter, Spanberger and a bipartisan group of U.S. Representatives also encouraged Secretary Perdue to expand outreach to dairy farmers and inform them about changes to the DMC under the 2018 Farm Bill, as well as new access to crop insurance. The bipartisan letter was led by U.S. Representatives Collin C. Peterson (D-MN-7) and Glenn “G.T.” Thompson (R-PA-15) and was cosponsored by more than 70 of Spanberger’s Democratic and Republican colleagues. Click here to read the full letter.

Earlier this month, Spanberger sent letters to Central Virginia dairy producers to update them on upcoming changes to the USDA’s dairy margin programs. The 2018 Farm bill replaces the Margin Protection Program with the DMC program.

Background

Since arriving in Congress, Spanberger has continued to advocate for Central Virginia farmers, push to give producers a seat at the decision-making table, and build a strong foundation for the next generation of farmers. Last week, she hosted a roundtable discussion with crop and livestock producers in Central Virginia to hear about the challenges facing local farmers.

And Spanberger has continued to push Secretary Perdue to provide support to Central Virginia’s farmers, livestock producers, and rural economy. In a House Agriculture Committee hearing last month, Spanberger invited Secretary Perdue to visit her district to hear directly from Central Virginia farmers and to receive their feedback on current USDA policies and 2018 Farm Bill implementation. He accepted her invitation. Click here for a full video of her remarks.

Spanberger is a proud member of the House Agriculture Committee. In January, Spanberger was selected to serve as Chair of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry. The Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee is responsible for legislation related to resource management, soil health, forestry, and water quality. Spanberger also serves as a member of the Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit Subcommittee.

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