Enrollment open for new dairy farm risk management program

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BANGOR — USDA Maine State Farm Service Agency Executive Director Donovan E. Todd III has announced that starting Sept. 2, farmers can enroll in the new dairy Margin Protection Program.

The voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, 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.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also launched a new Web tool to help producers determine the level of coverage under the Margin Protection Program that will provide them with the strongest safety net under a variety of conditions. The online resource, available at www.fsa.usda.gov/mpptool, allows dairy farmers to quickly and easily combine unique operation data and other key variables to calculate their coverage needs based on price projections. Producers can also review historical data or estimate future coverage based on data projections.

“The Margin Protection Program is an important tool that allows dairy producers to build a safety net that fits the needs of their operation,” said Todd. “This program has the potential to assist 258 dairy farms throughout Maine where 18,000 head of cattle produce 606,000,000 pounds of milk.”

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The FSA, which administers the program, wants to hear from dairy operators to determine whether the current regulation accurately addresses management changes, such as adding new family members to the dairy operation or inter-generational transfers. Written comments must be submitted by Oct. 28 at www.fsa.usda.gov or www.regulations.gov.

The 2014 Farm Bill also established the Dairy Product Donation Program. The program authorizes USDA to purchase and donate dairy products to nonprofit organizations that provide nutrition assistance to low-income families. Purchases only occur during periods of low dairy margins. Dairy operators do not need to enroll to benefit from the Dairy Product Donation Program.

Visit www.fsa.usda.gov/factsheets or stop by a local FSA office to learn more about either program.

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