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Deadline extended for dairy farmer safety net program


The USDA has extended the deadline for dairy farmers who want to sign up for a special safety net insurance program.

“Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue extended the deadline for producers to sign up for the Farm Service Agency’s Margin Protection Program – Dairy (MPP) for one week," the USDA said in a statement. "The program provides a much needed safety net for dairy producers, and signup will continue until Friday, June 8, 2018, for them to elect coverage. All dairy operations must make new coverage elections for 2018, even if the operation was enrolled during the previous 2018 signup period. Coverage elections made for 2018 will be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018.”

The federal initiative is intended to help minimize farmers' losses. The MPP saw major changes in the budget Congress passed earlier this year.

The program was first authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill. It acts as a kind of insurance that pays enrolled farmers based upon the difference between the national all-milk price and the national average feed cost. Farmers choose coverage margins between $4-$8.

County Farm Service Agencies said changes like more frequent payment calculations and lower premium rates make the program more useful.

Cynthia Walters, an Agricultural Program Specialist, said the new enrollment period is unusual. It is retroactive to January 1, so farmers will know ahead of time if they will get a payment.

"Usually they have to get their coverage before the beginning of the coverage year, and so this is a good opportunity for them to make a really informed decision," Walters said, "and so I'm really excited to see people getting in the door."

Because of the change, even farmers who signed up for 2018 coverage last year will need to re-enroll. Interested farmers can contact their county Farm Service Agency.

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