USDA Allows Dairy Farmers to Opt Out of Program

Cindy Zimmerman

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) has announced that, starting today, dairy producers can enroll for 2018 coverage in the Margin Protection Program – or opt out, a new option granted by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

To opt out, a producer should not sign up during the annual registration period. By opting out, a producer would not receive any MPP-Dairy benefits if payments are triggered for 2018. Full details will be included in a subsequent Federal Register Notice. The decision would be for 2018 only and is not retroactive.

National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) CEO Jim Mulhern called the news “a welcome development, in that it acknowledges the widespread dissatisfaction among farmers enrolled in the program. Simply put, the way the program was enacted in the 2014 Farm Bill, it does not meet the needs of America’s dairy farmers today, and declining participation levels amply illustrate farmers’ disenchantment with the MPP. Farmers who choose to opt out of the MPP will then be able to enroll in the Livestock Gross Margin program for 2018.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation was also pleased with the action. “Dairy farmers need access to effective risk management tools,” said AFBF president Zippy Duvall. “Approximately 24,000 dairy farms, representing 80 percent of the U.S. milk supply, are currently enrolled in the program, however, this year only 2 percent of the milk enrolled participated at levels above the basic coverage option. The low participation rate is due to the poor performance of MPP in providing a viable safety net to dairy farmers.”

AFBF, AgWired Animal, Dairy, Government, USDA