Leahy, Welch Encourage Dairy Farmers To Sign Up For New Insurance Program

...Announce Statewide Informational Workshops

MONTPELIER, Vt. (THURSDAY, Sept. 4) – At a farm in East Montpelier, Senator Patrick Leahy and Representative Peter Welch Thursday encouraged Vermont’s dairy farmers to enroll in the new Margin Protection Program (MPP) and announced a series of workshops for interested participants. 

MPP is a voluntary insurance program included in the new Farm Bill that protects dairy farmers from market fluctuations in milk prices.  The program replaces the expired Milk Income Loss Contract Program (MILC). 

Senator Leahy, the most senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and a Senate conferee during House-Senate negotiations on the bill, along with Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Welch, successfully fought to include this vital safety net program in the bill signed into law by President Obama in February.

In a joint statement, Leahy Sanders and Welch said:  “Wild swings in milk and feed prices have driven many Vermont farmers out of business.  After a long fight in Congress, dairy farmers finally have a real safeguard against the booms and busts of the market.  We strongly encourage farmers to take a good hard look at this important program.  These new information resources will help.”

The new program opened for enrollment on September 2, 2014.  Farmers have until November 28, 2014, to enroll for coverage in 2014 and 2015.

Next month, UVM Extension and USDA Farm Services Agency are conducting enrollment workshops from 10:00 a.m. to Noon in five locations across Vermont:


Tools and Resources for Vermont Dairy Farmers:

USDA Farm Service Agency Fact Sheet: Margin Protection Program

USDA Farm Service Agency Margin Protection Program Decision Tool

National Milk Producers Future for Dairy Program

Upcoming Workshops For Farmers

Vermont County Farm Service Agencies

Backgrounder From The Office Of Senator Patrick Leahy
The New Margin Protection Program For Dairy (MPP-Dairy)

Senator Patrick Leahy is working to get information into the hands of Vermont dairy farmers about new resources available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as enrollment opens for the new Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy).  The new program, created in the 2014 Farm Bill, offers a safety net for dairy producers when the difference between the price of milk and price of feed falls below coverage levels that farmers choose.  The signup period for coverage under the voluntary program is from September 2 through November 28, 2014, for 2015 calendar year coverage, and will be open on an annual basis in future years in the summer prior to the calendar year farmers are seeking coverage for.

“Today the price of milk is high, and the cost of feed is low,” said Leahy.  “But history tells us that the price of milk will not stay high forever.  Relatively small levels of overproduction can send the price of milk in a tailspin and endanger small dairy operations.  Farmers should take a look at their books and possible milk price scenarios for 2015, discuss the outlook with their dairy cooperatives, and sign up today for at least the lowest margin protection.”

Leahy announced the enactment of the program with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Representative Peter Welch last week in Burlington, Vermont.  Leahy championed the Margin Protection Program for Dairy in the 2014 Farm Bill and fought to ensure small dairy producers have significantly lower premium costs to access the higher protection levels offered in the program.  Vilsack credited Leahy as the Senate’s strongest champion of the program. 

The Margin Protection Program for Dairy is a voluntary program that allows farmers to choose a portion of their production to cover and a target margin to trigger payments.  The program ties a producer’s recent production history to the available coverage to discourage over production in a given year. The USDA has created a web tool to help farmers estimate their coverage levels and forecast future decisions. The tool can be accessed here: www.fsa.usda.gov/mpptool.

The final rule was published in the Federal Register on Friday, August 29 and can be viewed here: https://federalregister.gov/a/2014-20567.

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Press Contact
David Carle: 202-224-3693