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Farmers Can Sign Up For Dairy Insurance Starting June 17

A cow stands in a foggy, grassy field.
Elodie Reed
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday that dairy farmers can sign up for the new dairy insurance program created as part of the 2018 farm bill starting June 17.

Beginning on Monday, June 17, farmers can sign up for the new dairy insurance program created as part of the 2018 farm bill.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announcement comes after a four-year period in which the dairy industry struggled with prolonged low milk prices. According to the latest USDA dairy report, however, milk prices have risen over the first half of 2019.

Vermont officials expressed concern this past winter about the potential delay that the federal government's 35-day shutdown would cause for the new dairy insurance program's rollout. Following the farm bill's passage in December — and prior to the shutdown — Diane Bothfeld of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture had said she expected farmers to start enrolling in the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program this spring. 

On Thursday, just over a week before spring's official end, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued a written statement about the DMC program.

“In February I committed to opening signup of the new Dairy Margin Coverage program by June 17," Perdue wrote. "I am proud to say that our FSA [Farm Service Agency] staff worked hard to meet that challenge as one of the Department’s top Farm Bill implementation priorities since President Trump signed it last December.”

The USDA press release noted that the DMC will provide retroactive coverage back to Jan. 1, 2019, and it will also offer reimbursement or credit for premiums that farmers paid between 2014 and 2017 for the Margin Protection Program (MPP).

Eligibility for the new insurance program is open to all dairy operations in the country.

While both the DMC and its former iteration, the MPP, were designed to provide protection for farmers when the margin between milk and feed prices reaches a certain threshold, the DMC offers a wider coverage spread. This is intended to benefit small-scale dairy producers, who are likely to have higher costs than large-scale producers who can buy supplies in bulk.

DMC premiums will also be lower than those for the MPP.

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