Saturday was my wedding anniversary. Oops, I should say “our” wedding anniversary. We have been married 22 years, and I still stick my foot in my mouth like that. On occasion, I think about that old saying that women get married expecting their husbands to change, while men get married expecting their wives will not. I doubt I met those expectations. Anyone that knows us agrees that my spouse was taking a bigger risk than I was. Marriage has some parallels to farming.
I know there are some farmers who are wedded to using green equipment, while others seem to have made a lifetime commitment to a certain seed or supplier. And sometimes the divorces are ugly.
Fortunately, there are not many FSA programs that require participants to sign up for life. Most programs either have an annual enrollment or last the length of each farm bill.
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) requires the longest commitment, and that is 10 years. This is done by design.
Short term FSA programs allow USDA to re-evaluate needs and priorities based on ever-changing economic factors.
The Dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) is an example of the process. This program was created in the 2014 farm bill.
At that time input costs were coming off of record highs. This caused USDA to develop a program to protect dairy margins against these high costs.
We all know what happened next. Input prices dropped some, but milk prices dropped more. What seemed like a good safety net program in 2014 doesn’t look like such a good idea in 2018.
USDA and policy writers have recognized this shortcoming. Efforts have been made to modify the existing program.
With budgets set and other matters taking priority, none of those efforts were successful. So MPP will still be in effect for 2018.
FSA is, however, allowing producers to “divorce” themselves from the program. An opt-out is being offered for anyone not wishing to purchase coverage for the 2018 calendar year.
Participants will be considered to have opted out if they do not pay their $100 administrative fee by the Dec. 15 deadline.
Participants wishing to continue their coverage into 2018 need to contact their local FSA and pay the administrative fee by the deadline. The 2014 farm bill expires at the end of next year.
Hopefully Congress will be able to pass a dairy program for the new farm bill that addresses today’s dairy challenges.
That’s all for now,
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