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USDA Says Relief For Dairy Farmers Is On Its Way

Esther Honig
Harvest Public Media

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said this week that that a long-anticipated program for dairy farmers will be available June 17, with payments possibly coming as soon as early July.

The announcement came Thursday in a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing.

The Dairy Margin Coverage Program was part of the 2018 farm bill but was delayed by the longest government shutdown in history.

Alan Bjerga with the National Milk Producers Federation said that while the program is getting a late start, struggling dairy farmers now know when help is coming and can plan accordingly.

“Even if the sign up is still several months away it’s all about managing your cash flow and your operation loans with your banker,” he said.

The Dairy Margin Coverage Program is an update to an existing program and is similar to insurance. Each year, producers choose their level of coverage and receive a payment if dairy margins drop below that level. The program doesn’t guarantee a profit for producers, but allows them to stay in operation when the cost of producing milk outweighs the profits.

According to the  USDA, milk prices have fallen for the last three years.

Follow Esther on Twitter: @estherhonig

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Esther Honig