Leahy, Sanders, Welch Encourage VT Dairy Farmers To Enroll In New Farm Bill Safety Net Program
(MONDAY, June 17, 2019) - Vermont’s congressional delegation — Senator Patrick Leahy (D), Senator Bernie Sanders (I), and Representative Peter Welch (D) — on Monday urged Vermont dairy farmers to consider enrolling in the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program, a safety net measure created in the 2018 Farm Bill to help producers manage volatile milk prices and feed costs. The enrollment period opens Monday, and runs through September 20.
The voluntary program, advocated by Leahy, Sanders and Welch, is designed specifically to benefit smaller-scale producers. It provides payments to producers when the difference between milk prices and feed costs drop below coverage levels selected by producers. The program continues to build on the significant improvements to the Margin Protection Program (MPP) secured by Leahy in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, offering dairy farmers higher coverage levels and lower premiums.
In a joint statement, Leahy, Sanders, and Welch said: “The launch of the Dairy Margin Coverage program couldn’t come soon enough for Vermont’s dairy farmers. As they continue to endure low milk prices, extreme weather, retaliatory tariffs and a challenging economy, the improvements Congress has made to the dairy safety net will provide immediate relief. We fought hard during the 2018 Farm Bill to ensure that this new program benefits small-scale producers like those in Vermont, and the results already look promising. Farmers who enroll now can receive retroactive payments for January, February, and March alone that will exceed the premiums for all of 2019. We encourage all Vermont dairy producers to learn about the program, talk to their cooperatives, talk to their USDA field agents, and enroll in this improved program. While the changes made in the DMC will have an immediate positive impact, we will continue working to help farmers stabilize the market and manage the supply of milk.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that signups will continue through September 20th, 2019. The USDA Farm Service Agency has created a DMC decision support tool to assist producers in choosing their levels of coverage. Farmers also have the option to receive a 25 percent discount on their premiums if they choose to lock in coverage levels for five years. In addition to making the program more affordable, the 2018 Farm Bill also provides an option for dairy farmers to receive a 75 percent credit or 50 percent refund of the net premiums they paid into the Margin Protection Program from 2015 to 2017, when the program did not provide adequate support to farmers.