USDA extends dairy Margin Protection Program deadline, again

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(Farm and Dairy file photo)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has once again extended the deadline for the dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP), this time until Dec. 19.

The program, established by the 2014 farm bill, protects participating dairy producers when the margin — the difference between the price of milk and feed costs — falls below levels of protection selected by the applicant.

“Despite the best forecasts, weather and markets can change, so a modest investment today can protect against unexpected losses tomorrow,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Basic coverage

For $100, a farmer can cover 90 percent of production at $4 margin swings, and with affordable incremental premiums, dairy farmers can cover up to $8 margin swings.

Related: What you need to know about margin protection.

Those who apply this year will receive a slight increase in production protection that will not be available in the future. Farmers who do not sign up for the MPP for 2015 will forfeit the 1 percent base production increase.

For a 400-cow operation, this would equate to an additional 80,000 pounds of milk that are eligible for coverage.

“It’s a small step to take to ensure your business is covered,” Vilsack said.

Web tools

He encourages producers to use the online resource at www.fsa.usda.gov/mpptool to calculate the best levels of coverage for their dairy operation.

They can type in specific operation data and explore price projections and market scenarios to determine what level of coverage is best for them.

They can also compare the data to see how the program would have helped in previous years, such as 2008, when margins dropped from $8 to $3 in just three months. The online resource is on a secure website that can be accessed from computers, mobile phones or tablets, 24 hours a day.

Farmers also have a chance to share comments and help shape the MPP for the future. Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the extension of the opportunity for public comments on both the MPP and the Dairy Product Donation Program until Dec. 15.

Submit comments

Comments can be submitted to USDA via the regulations.gov website at http://go.usa.gov/GJSA or send them by mail to Danielle Cooke, Special Programs Manager, Price Support Division, FSA, USDA, STOP 0512, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C., 20250-0512.

To learn more about the MPP for dairy, contact your local USDA Farm Service Agency county office at offices.usda.gov or visit them online at www.fsa.usda.gov.

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