New federal program can aid Virginia dairy farmers

“Dairy farmers have been struggling with low milk prices and other challenges for the past several years and we are losing dairy farms at the rate of one a week,” says Dr. Jewel Bronaugh, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. “Now potential help is available from the USDA in the form of the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.”

Eric Paulson, head of the Virginia Dairymen’s Association, encourages farmers to check out the new program made possible by the 2018 Farm Bill. “Working with their local Farm Service Agency office, they should be able to view the options available, evaluate the possible benefits,

and determine the effect the program would have on their operation,” he said. “With the recent changes, I encourage farmers to take a look at this year’s program.”

The current DMC program is significantly different from the previous version offered prior to the latest federal Farm Bill. The updated program offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between milk prices and the average feed cost falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer.

The program provides coverage retroactive to Jan. 1. To date, 2019 income over feed cost margins have triggered DMC payments for January, February, March, April and May.

Open enrollment for the 2019 program began on June 17 and the U.S. Department of Agriculture began issuing program payments to producers on July 11. Enrollment for DMC ends on Sept. 20. For more information, farmers should visit USDA’s Farm Service Agency website or search for dairy-margin-coverage-program at fsa.usda.gov.