Enrollment, comment dates extended on USDA dairy programs

By Spencer Chase

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2014 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today an extension of deadlines related to Department of Agriculture dairy programs approved in the 2014 Farm Bill.

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Producers now have until Dec. 5 to enroll in the dairy Margin Protection Program, and USDA will accept public comments on both MPP and the Dairy Product Donation Program until Dec. 15. Speaking at the National Milk Producers Federation annual meeting in Grapevine, Texas, Vilsack said USDA wants to ensure producers make the best decision for their respective operations.

"We want dairy producers to have enough time to make thoughtful and well-studied choices," said Vilsack. "Markets change and (MPP) can help protect dairy producers from those changes."

MPP provides financial assistance to participating farmers when margins fall below a coverage level selected by the farmer. An online tool is available to educate producers on the program and assist with their choice. The tool allows producers to see coverage levels in different market situations, even allowing for the exploration of how the program would work in historical scenarios.

Vilsack said USDA is calling for comments to ensure their own regulations are not harming the dairy industry.

"USDA is committed to creating strong opportunities for the next generation of farmers and ranchers. When dairy producers bring new family members into the business, these changes could affect safety net coverage," said Vilsack. "If our current rules hinder intergenerational changes or if improvements are needed in these programs, then we want to hear from dairy producers."

The enrollment deadline is about a week later than the previous Nov. 29 cutoff, while the comment deadline originally expired Oct. 28, giving the public an additional month-and-a-half to share their opinions with USDA.

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