04.03.18

Senator Stabenow Applauds Progress to Provide Relief for Dairy Farmers

USDA announces April 9-June 1 sign-up period for new-and-improved Margin Protection Program authored by Senator Stabenow; coverage will be retroactive to January

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) announcement allowing dairy farmers to sign up for much-needed support through the new-and-improved Margin Protection Program. Stabenow secured the new assistance for dairy farmers in the recent Bipartisan Budget Act, which offers retroactive coverage to the beginning of the year. The recent improvements are designed to help protect dairy producers from market instability and unexpected losses.

“After experiencing tough times, Michigan dairy farmers are eager for relief,” said Senator Stabenow. “Today’s announcement will allow our dairy farmers to sign up for new-and-improved coverage that will protect them from losses outside of their control and provide certainty for their businesses and our agricultural economy.”

Dairy is Michigan’s top commodity, supporting 40,000 jobs and contributing over $15 billion to the state’s economy. Unfortunately, recent market instability has hurt Michigan’s dairy industry, causing many family dairy farms to take on additional debt or even go out of business. While the current Farm Bill created several new risk management tools to protect farmers from unexpected losses, the tool for dairy farmers did not work as intended due to last minute budget cuts and implementation problems at USDA. Since 2014, dairy farmers have struggled with market uncertainty without a reliable safety net.

Over the last year, Senator Stabenow has made fixing the dairy safety net one of her top priorities. In the recent Bipartisan Budget Act, she worked with Senate Appropriations leaders to make improvements for agriculture and led the effort to provide immediate relief for dairy producers. Senator Stabenow secured support for dairy farmers by fixing problems with the old Margin Protection Program and providing farmers with the opportunity to sign up for 2018 coverage, which was announced today. The legislation also provides a pathway for additional support through new customizable insurance tools, and sets the stage for additional improvements in the Farm Bill. 

Since the passage of the dairy improvements in the Bipartisan Budget Act on February 9, 2018, Senator Stabenow has pushed USDA to implement the changes so dairy farmers in Michigan and across the country could take advantage of the new support. Last month, Senator Stabenow wrote to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to urge the USDA to carry out the new changes quickly and consistently.

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