Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last week that dairy farmers can enroll in the new Margin Protection Program for Dairy starting September 2, 2014. The voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides financial assistance to participating farmers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer.
The program, which IDFA endorsed, replaces the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program and gives participating dairy producers the flexibility to select coverage levels best suited for their operation. Enrollment ends November 28, 2014, for 2014 and 2015. Participating farmers must remain in the program through 2018 and pay a minimum $100 administrative fee each year. They have the option of selecting a different coverage level during open enrollment each year.
The Margin Protection Program final rule was published in the Federal Register on August 29, with a 60-day public comment period ending Oct. 28, 2014.
The rule also implements regulations for the Dairy Product Donation Program, which authorizes USDA to purchase and donate dairy products to nonprofit organizations that provide nutrition assistance to low-income families. While the rule specifically provides the Secretary with the authority to determine purchase and distribution methods, it seems clear that USDA’s current intent would be to conduct the program through its normal procurement process rather than by using vouchers.
For more information, contact Ruth Saunders, IDFA vice president of policy and legislative affairs, at email@example.com.