The National Milk Producers Federation welcomed USDA’s announcement that signup for the long-awaited Dairy Margin Coverage Program will begin June 17, applauding the department’s inclusion of the cost of high-quality alfalfa feed in payment calculations, a boon for dairy farmers facing a fifth year of low prices.
“The DMC provides a stronger safety net for America’s dairy producers, one sorely needed as low prices, trade disturbances and chaotic weather patterns combine to create hardships,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the NMPF. “We have advocated for months that margin calculations must consider the higher feed costs dairy producers pay to properly nourish their livestock. USDA’s decision to include premium and supreme quality alfalfa feed is appropriate and is another win for dairy farmers that will provide additional, crucial aid.”
The 2018 Farm Bill created the new DMC program, which replaces the Margin Protection Program for Dairy. The program protects dairy producers when the difference between the milk prices and feed costs (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount coverage selected by the producer.
Producers may cover up to their first 5 million pounds of annual milk production (equivalent to the production of a 200-cow dairy farm) at a margin of up to $9.50 per hundredweight. Payments under the program will be retroactive to Jan. 1. Calculations already made for the first four months of the year show that producers signing up at the $9.50 level would receive payments for each of the year’s first four months, with total payments well over the already-set annual premium. All producers will be able to access this affordable coverage regardless of size, and larger producers will have access to significantly more affordable $5.00 catastrophic-type coverage.
“We very much appreciate USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue sticking with the department’s pledge to make dairy a priority in Farm Bill implementation,” Mulhern said. “And we again want to express our appreciation to Congressional agriculture leaders who worked together on a bi-partisan basis to deliver these program improvements,” he said.
Mulhern thanked Representatives Collin Peterson (D-MN) and K. Michael Conaway (R-TX), as well as Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), the chairmen and ranking members of congress’s agriculture committees, for their work on creating the DMC. In addition, this spring, Chairman Peterson and Ranking Member Stabenow each spearheaded bipartisan letters, co-led by Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), urging USDA to prioritize implementation of the DMC program in a farmer-friendly manner.
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), based in Arlington, VA, develops and carries out policies that advance dairy producers and the cooperatives they own. NMPF’s member cooperatives produce the majority of U.S. milk, making NMPF the voice of dairy producers on Capitol Hill and with government agencies. For more, visit www.nmpf.org.