Delegates at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 92nd Annual Meeting voted to maintain a strong farm income safety net, address dairy price volatility and urge greater oversight of regulatory actions by the Environmental Protection Agency.

As Congress prepares to draft a new farm bill later this year and in 2012, the delegates reiterated their support for extending the concepts of the 2008 farm bill.

“The 2008 farm bill has worked as farmers and ranchers have weathered market ups and downs over the last four years,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. “It’s important to maintain a program that protects our nation’s food, fiber and fuel supply and the consumers who rely on agriculture’s productivity.”

Farm program baseline funds should not be diverted outside the farm bill, the delegates said. The new farm bill should maintain a strong “safety net” that consists of direct payments, a simplified Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program and the countercyclical, marketing loan and crop insurance programs. Overall, however, they adopted policy that provides flexibility to move forward with farm policy within the budget framework that will become clearer later this year.

A new direction in dairy policy is needed, according to the delegates, to reduce milk price volatility. Recent years have seen both historical but short-term highs and devastating longer-term lows in milk prices. A resolution approved by the delegates says, in essence, that the dairy price support and Milk Income Loss Contract programs have not performed adequately.

“We’ve seen extreme fluctuations in dairy prices, and in the last two years the dairy sector has had a tougher time than other sectors,” Stallman explained. “We can’t continue to do the same things and expect a different outcome. We need a change in our nation’s dairy policy.”

The delegates adopted new policy in support of a dairy risk management program that offers protection based on gross margins after subtracting feed costs. The delegates supported creating such a program in a fiscally responsible way by backing the use of all funding previously allocated to dairy price support and Milk Income Loss Contract programs to a new risk management program.

The new dairy policy allows for the consideration of a temporary supply management system, but it maintains AFBF’s opposition to a mandatory milk production quota system. The policy enables Farm Bureau to work with the dairy industry to develop solutions for excessive price fluctuations.