Own a Dairy? Get Help from USDA.

Posted by Justin Fritscher, FSA in Farming
Apr 02, 2018

Dairy farmers kick off their days in the wee hours of the morning, and it’s often after dusk when they can hit the hay, and then wake up and do it all over again.

USDA knows dairy farmers – as well as all the nation’s farmers, ranchers, and foresters – have busy jobs.

USDA offers a wide variety of programs to help agricultural producers find the right tools for their farm.

The Scott Brothers Dairy in San Jacinto, California is a fourth-generation farm family that has taken advantage of USDA conservation programs. Read more about the Scott Brothers Dairy's work with USDA. 

That’s why USDA offers a wide variety of programs to help agricultural producers find the right tools for their farm.

USDA offers a variety of risk management, disaster assistance and conservation programs to help America’s dairy farmers weather ups and downs in the market and natural disasters as well as invest in improvements to their operations.

Safety Net for Dairy Farmers

Earlier today, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced a sign-up period for the Margin Protection Program for Dairy or MPP-Dairy, a risk management program that provides better protections for dairy producers from shifting milk and feed prices.

MPP-Dairy protects dairy producers by paying them when the difference between the national all-milk price and the national average feed cost.

The Bipartisan Budget Act funded this signup period, which runs from April 9, 2018 to June 1, 2018. The Act also made changes to the program that were requested by producers, including more coverage, lower rates, and fee exemptions for some producers. Learn more about the changes and how to sign up.

If you’re a dairy farmer who has worked with USDA, be on the lookout for a postcard in the mail.

Sign up for the Margin Protection Program for Dairy by June 1, 2018.

MPP-Dairy provides protections for dairy producers from shifting milk and feed prices.

Is MPP-Dairy Right for You?

USDA offers a web tool to help producers determine the level of coverage needed to provide the best safety net.

The online resource, which is being updated and will be available by April 9, 2018, enables 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 secure site can be accessed via computer, smartphone, tablet, or any other platform.

Another Risk Management Tool

In addition to MPP-Dairy, USDA also offers the Livestock Gross Margin Insurance Plan for Dairy Cattle or LGM-Dairy, which provides protection when feed costs rise or milk prices drop and can be tailored to any size farm.

LGM-Dairy is similar to buying both a call option to limit higher feed costs and a put option to set a floor on milk prices.

Dairy producers can sign up for LGM-Dairy 12 times each year and insure all of the milk production that you expect to market over a rolling 11-month insurance period.

(Note: Producers can’t enroll in both MPP-Dairy and LGM Dairy at the same time.)

Conservation on Dairy Farms

Conservation programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, helps dairy producers make conservation improvements to their land, which are good for both natural resources and dairy operations.

USDA can help a dairy producer plan and carry out various conservation activities including reducing the concentration of nutrients through enhanced nutrient management, enhancing manure management techniques to improve air and water quality, and planting cover crops to improve soil health.

Through USDA, dairy producers have ample options to risk management, farm loans and conservation programs.

Kerry Gawalt runs Cedar Mountain Farm in Hartland, Vermont and has worked with USDA to make conservation improvements to her dairy. Read more about Kerry Gawalt's work with USDA

More Information

To learn about these programs and many others, contact your local USDA service center. Or download the new "Options for Dairy Farmers" fact sheet.

Category/Topic: Farming