Dairy farmers: Sign up for Farm Bill benefits

Erin Robinstine
Farmers Advance

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, announced  June 17 Michigan’s dairy farmers can now sign up for affordable benefits through Dairy Margin Coverage. The program provides improved support for dairy farmers facing financial uncertainty. Stabenow authored improvements in the 2018 bipartisan Farm Bill to support Michigan dairy farmers and strengthen the agricultural economy.

“Michigan’s dairy industry is a critical part of our agricultural economy that has experienced tough times for far too long,” said Senator Stabenow. “Signing up for the new-and-improved coverage will help our dairy farmers weather financial uncertainty and recover from losses outside of their control.”

Dairy is Michigan’s top commodity, supporting almost 80,000 jobs and contributing over $18 billion to the state’s economy. Unfortunately, recent market and trade instability has hurt Michigan’s dairy industry, causing many family dairy farms to take on additional debt or even go out of business. Michigan lost 230 dairy farms last year, the highest percentage of any state.

The 2018 Farm Bill dramatically expanded support for dairy producers, providing flexible, affordable coverage options through the Dairy Margin Coverage program. Starting June 17, Michigan dairy farmers can go into their local Farm Service Agency office and sign up for the new coverage for 2019.  Farmers that take the option and sign up for a full five years of coverage will get a 25% discount on their premiums.

The new program is flexible, offering options that will work for any size dairy farm.

Coverage is retroactive to the start of the year and support payments for the past few months have exceeded the amount farmers will pay in premiums for all of 2019. By signing up for the best available option, the average dairy farm in Michigan would receive over $13,000 in net support for the first four months of 2019 and will continue to be eligible for additional payments.

“Our dairy farmers welcome the arrival of the long awaited viable safety net for their industry,” said Ken Nobis, Michigan Milk Producers Association Senior Policy Advisor.  “USDA’s announcement that producers can start signing up for the Dairy Margin Coverage Program on June 17 means the time has arrived.  We want to thank Senator Stabenow for her diligent bipartisan efforts that resulted in this program that will deliver on the promise of a reliable safety net for dairy farmers.”

To learn more about sign-up, dairy farmers can go to their Farm Service Agency office or visit the USDA website.