Washington, DC - U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that more than 23,000 of the nation's dairy operations – over half of all dairy farms in America – have enrolled in the new safety-net program created by the 2014 Farm Bill, known as the Margin Protection Program. The voluntary program provides financial assistance to participating farmers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer.
"Enrollment far exceeded our expectations in the first year," said Vilsack. "We're pleased that so many dairy producers are taking advantage of the expanded protection. USDA conducted a lot of outreach to get the word out. When you compare the initial enrollment rate for the Margin Protection Program to the longstanding federal crop insurance program, where participation ranges from 30 percent to 80 percent depending on the crop, it's clear that these outreach efforts made a difference."
During the three months of the enrollment period, USDA conducted a robust education and outreach effort to the nation's dairy producers. The department held over 500 public meetings, sent out nearly 60,000 direct mailings, and conducted more than 400 demonstrations of the Web-based tool designed to help applicants to calculate their specific coverage needs.
Unlike earlier dairy programs, the Margin Protection Program offers dairy producers a range of choices of protection that are best suited for their operation. Starting with basic coverage for an administrative fee of $100, producers can select higher levels of coverage at affordable incremental premiums. More than half of applicants selected higher coverage beyond the basic level.
Dairy producers interested in enrolling in the Margin Protection Program for calendar year 2016 can register between July 1, 2015 and Sept. 30, 2015.
To learn more about the Margin Protection Program, visit the Farm Service Agency (FSA) online at www.fsa.usda.gov or contact a local FSA office at offices.usda.gov.
The Margin Protection Program was made possible through the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.