Producers will have an extra week to sign up for the Dairy Margin Coverage program for the 2020 calendar year.

The original deadline was Friday, Dec. 13, but USDA officials extended the deadline to Dec. 20.

The department will also continue to accept Market Facilitation Program applications until Dec. 20, as well, a two-week extension from the original Dec. 6 deadline.

Bill Northey, farm production and conservation undersecretary at USDA, said the dates were extended because of prolonged and extensive weather impacts this year.

“Because some of our producers are still in the field, time to conduct business at the local USDA office is at a premium,” Northey said. “We hope this deadline extension will allow producers the opportunity to participate in these important programs.”

The DMC program, which replaced the Margin Protection Program in the 2018 farm bill, offers price protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer.

As of Dec. 9, only 7,204 of the nation’s 37,468 licensed operations have enrolled for 2020. More than 23,000 signed up for 2019 coverage.

However, officials did expect an enrollment drop of some size. FSA is projecting dairy margins will stay above coverage levels next year, so the program is unlikely to trigger payments.

MFP payments have been used by the administration to aid farmers suffering from trade retaliation from other countries.

As of Dec. 9, $10.47 billion worth of 2019 MFP payments had been made. Farmers who produce grain, soybeans, cotton and other non-specialty crops have received $9.9 billion. Specialty crop growers have received $123 million, while the livestock sector has received $379 million. In May, the Trump administration announced a $16 billion trade mitigation package that included $14.5 billion earmarked for MFP payments. 

Northey said earlier this week, USDA will likely decide “later this month or early January” as to whether to issue the third tranche of payments under the 2019 MFP program.

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