Press Release

Welch’s Bills to Support Vermont Dairy, Organic and Specialty Crop Farmers Included in Senate’s Newly Unveiled Farm Bill 

May 1, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. Today, the Senate Agriculture Committee unveiled the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act, a multi-year Farm Bill proposal that includes several bills championed by U.S. Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy, to support Vermont farmers and producers.  

“Vermont has a long, proud tradition of agriculture and farming. Those traditions are a part of Vermont’s culture today thanks to the hard work farmers put in every day—and this year’s Farm Bill will help them carry on that tradition for generations to come,” said Senator Welch. “I’m pleased this Farm Bill includes priorities vital to Vermont, including policies I pushed for to strengthen the safety net for conventional dairy farmers, help more farmers transition to organics, and improve organic dairy market data collection. This Farm Bill is a must-pass for our Vermont farmers, and will promote local and sustainable agricultural practices, the Vermont way.”   

In addition to Senator Welch’s legislation to support Vermont farmers and producers, several of Sen. Welch’s other priorities, such as bills to expand rural development opportunities and increase rural clean energy production; improve access to nutrition; strengthen our local food systems and expand markets; and make our communities more resilient to flooding, were included in this Farm Bill.  

The Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act includes the following Welch priorities for farmers: 

Support Vermont’s Dairy Farmers: 

  • This Farm Bill directs USDA to improve collection of organic dairy market data, as directed under Sen. Welch’s O DAIRY Act.  
  • This Farm Bill expands the Healthy Fluid Milk Incentive Program to include dairy products such as cheese and yogurt as outlined in the bipartisan Dairy Nutrition Incentive Program Act, which Sen. Welch co-sponsors.  
  • This Farm Bill reauthorizes and increases authorization from $20 million to $36 million for the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives program
  • This Farm Bill makes improvements to the Dairy Margin Coverage program

Promote Local Food Markets and Systems: 

  • This bill codifies and provides $200 million over 5 years in mandatory funding for the Local Food Purchase Cooperative Agreement Program, similar to Expanding Access To (EAT) Local Foods Act, which Sen. Welch co-sponsors. 
  • This bill promotes competition in livestock markets by expanding grant and loan programs for small and midsized processors as directed under Sen. Welch’s Fairness for Small-Scale Farmers and Ranchers Act and establishes an Office of the Special Investigator for Competition Matters. 
  • This Farm Bill makes improvements to the Acer Access and Development Program, as directed in Sen. Welch’s bipartisan Supporting All Producers (SAP) Act. The Acer Access and Development Program funds research and education initiatives on maple syrup production, natural resource sustainability, and marketing for maple products. 

Help the Transition to Organics:  

  • This Farm Bill includes key policies within Sen. Welch’s Opportunities in Organic Act: it improves organic cost share, authorizes technical assistance to organic farmers, expands organic dairy data collection, and establishes the Organic Market Development program to invest in organic supply chains. 
  • This Farm Bill makes improvements to the Local Agriculture Market Program, similar to the Local Farms and Food Act, which Sen. Welch cosponsors. 

The Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act contains more than 100 pieces of legislation that aim to support our farms, create jobs, improve rural infrastructure, expand access to childcare and health care, support rural education and skills training, build out high-speed rural broadband, help rural homes and build more housing in rural America, assist homeowners and farms transition to greener energy and lower their utility bills, clean up our drinking water, conserve our land, and more. 

Read more about how the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act would strengthen rural development and expand rural clean energy production and infrastructure. 

Read more about how the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act would help improve access to nutrition for Vermont families. 

Read more about how the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act would provide disaster relief and resiliency for Vermont farmers and communities. 

Read a summary of the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act here.  

Read a section-by-section of the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act here.