Collins wins Senate approval of pro-dairy amendment

A U.S. Senate-approved amendment to a larger federal spending package that’s cosponsored by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) aims to ramp up nationwide demand for milk products.

“I am pleased that an overwhelming bipartisan majority of my colleagues joined me in advancing this amendment that will help this integral part of our agriculture community to thrive,” said Sen. Collins.

Senate Amendment (S.Amdt.) 3524, approved on Aug. 1 by a Senate vote of 83-15, would provide $7 million for grants to state departments of agriculture, cooperative extension services, institutions of higher education, and nonprofit organizations for programs promoting the development of new dairy products, process improvement, and marketing.

S.Amdt. 3524 is now included in the Interior, Environment, Financial Services and General Government, Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act of 2019, H.R. 6147. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) sponsored the amendment, which was also cosponsored by U.S. Sen. Angus King (I-ME).

“Our amendment will support Maine’s hard-working dairy farmers by increasing awareness of milk’s many health benefits and investing in new techniques and processes,” said Sen. Collins.

Sen. King added that Maine’s dairy industry, which is a cornerstone of the state’s rural economy, needs innovative approaches to help stabilize it during tough economic times. “This investment in our nation’s dairy farmers opens the door for new, creative techniques to help this industry grow and thrive for years to come,” he said.

The funding in the appropriations minibus would build on provisions in the Dairy Business Innovation Act of 2018, S. 3113, which Sens. Collins and Baldwin got included in the Senate-passed 2018 Farm Bill to establish regional initiatives that would jumpstart dairy product updates, modernize dairy plants and support new dairy entrepreneurs, according to the lawmakers.

H.R. 6147 received Senate approval on Aug. 1, 92-6, and the House received notice on Aug. 2 that the measure was ready for members’ review.