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Serving: MN
cows in freestall
DWINDLING DAIRY: Minnesota lost 31 Grade A dairy farms between Jan. 1 and March 1. There are now 2,567 Grade A dairies in the state.

Lawmakers urge ‘fast action’ on Dairy Margin Coverage program

USDA says sign-up for the DMC program is still set to open mid-June.

Dairy farmers are still waiting for USDA to finalize regulations for the new Dairy Margin Coverage program that was included in the 2018 Farm Bill.

Congress approved the farm bill in December, and farmers were supposed to be able to sign up for the DMC by March 2. However, during a Feb. 27 U.S. House ag committee hearing, ag secretary Sonny Perdue told lawmakers that USDA would not be able to open sign-up by March 2 and laid out an implementation timeline with sign-up beginning by June 17.

Sign-up opening in June for a statutory period of 90 days was confirmed last week by a USDA spokesman.

However, some lawmakers are pushing for faster implementation due to the economic stress dairy farmers are under.

Last week, a bipartisan letter signed by more than 70 lawmakers, including Minnesota representatives Collin Peterson, Angie Craig, Tom Emmer, Jim Hagedorn and Pete Stauber, urged Perdue and USDA to “use all available resources to implement DMC in as fast, transparent and farmer-friendly a way as possible.”

The letter cited the continued loss of dairy farms as needing action now on DMC.

Peterson noted that last year, the average dairy farm in Minnesota earned $15,000 — a third of what was earned on average in 2017.

“Given what’s facing dairy farmers, USDA needs to get a move on implementing these dairy programs as soon as possible,” Peterson says. “And I hope USDA will overcommunicate on what the new programs can do for farmers. Congress worked hard to include higher and more affordable coverage options so it’s important that there is outreach so that these folks see just what the new programs can do for them.”

USDA recently tweaked regulations of the 2018 Livestock Gross Margin Program so dairy farmers enrolled in the 2018 Margin Protection Program could take advantage of it.

USDA announced that dairy producers who participated in LGM-Dairy now have the opportunity to participate in the MPP-Dairy for 2018 coverage.

Sign-up opened March 25 and continues through May 10.

Dairy farmers enrolled in 2018 LGM-Dairy were previously determined by the 2014 Farm Bill to be ineligible for coverage under MPP-Dairy. The 2018 Farm Bill changed that restriction and allows dairy farmers with LGM coverage to retroactively enroll in MPP-Dairy for 2018.

The gross margin is the market value of milk minus feed costs. 

Eligible producers can enroll during the sign-up period at their local USDA service center. To locate your office, visit farmers.gov.

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