The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) said the proposed dairy policy reforms included in the newly unveiled congressional disaster assistance package are “much-needed improvements to the dairy safety net,” according to NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern, and come at a time when many of America’s dairy farmers are struggling financially after a third year of stagnant prices.
NMPF sent a letter to the leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives, urging passage of the larger spending bill that contains reforms to the dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) and provides access to additional risk management tools from the Agriculture Department (USDA). These key dairy-related elements in the bill will create $1.2 billion in baseline spending for the next Farm Bill, paving the way for additional improvements to the MPP.
The MPP reforms included in the dairy package include:
– Raising the catastrophic coverage level from $4.00 to $5.00 for the first tier of covered production for all dairy farmers;
– Adjusting the first tier of covered production to include every dairy farmer’s first five million pounds of annual milk production (about 217 cows) instead of four million pounds, a recognition of the growth in herd sizes across the country;
– Reducing the premium rates, effective immediately, for every producer’s first five million pounds of production, to better enable dairy farmers to afford the higher levels of coverage that will provide more meaningful protection against low margins;
– Modifying the margin calculation to a monthly (from bi-monthly) basis, to make the program more accurate and responsive to producers in difficult months;
– Waiving the annual $100 administrative fees for underserved farmers;
– Directing USDA to immediately reopen the program signup for 2018.