All Eyes on Farm Bill’s Margin Protection Implementation

With the new farm bill having been signed into law (left), attention has shifted to how the Agriculture Department will implement the groundbreaking margin insurance program for dairy farmers.

The program—the most significant rewrite of federal dairy policy in a generation—refocuses the dairy safety net from propping up prices, to protecting margins. In that way, it will help address the volatility of both milk prices and feed costs, which have become a major problem in recent years.

By limiting how much production growth can be covered under margin insurance, the new program will also help address imbalances in supply and demand.

The farm bill requires the Agriculture Department to officially establish the Margin Protection Program by September 1. NMPF staff held preliminary meetings in February with USDA staff on implementation.

NMPF will be working closely with USDA’s Farm Service Agency staff to ensure implementation is as effective and farmer-friendly as possible. In the meantime, the MILC program remains in effect through the first part of 2014, although milk prices are expected to be high enough so that it won’t generate any payments.

A detailed explanation of all the farm bill dairy provisions is available online. In addition, NMPF is refashioning its Future for Dairy website into a hub for information on the margin insurance program and its implementation.

*Photo credit to Michigan Milk Producers Association.