Department of Agriculture implementing new program to ease burden on dairy farmers

Local News

Dairy farmers are suffering from low milk prices. 

To provide them with relief, the Department of Agriculture is implementing a new program to try to ease the burden. 

NewsChannel 34’s Morgan Wright spoke with Congresswoman Claudia Tenney about the margin protection program for dairy.

“I’m driving up to farms and the farmer is coming out with their hands in the air saying i’m going broke,” said Tenney.

Congresswoman Claudia Tenney fears the dairy farming industry has reached a crisis level — as dairy farmers struggle to turn a profit from milk.

“They’re seeing in many cases their milk going to the middle man the so-called milk marketers and they’re getting the profits on the milk and the farmers aren’t,” said Tenney.

Tenney says with dairy prices low the margin protection program needs to step in and assist farmers.

Changes made in the 2018 budget act can essentially provide insurance for farmers.

“Premiums that are provided for this type of coverage it makes them better for dairy producers so it’s not as expensive and it provides them a higher level of coverage for their losses,” said Steven Peterson, acting administrator, Farm Service Agency, US Department of Agriculture.

The margin protection program allows dairy farmers the option of signing up for coverage.

When the difference between the national average cost of milk and the average feed cost falls below a certain dollar amount.

“We’re lowering the threshold to a very small number or to zero so that this big disparity in pricing doesn’t continue to force our farmers into bankruptcy,” said Tenney.

Peterson said, “When agriculture suffers our rural communities suffer.”

Congresswoman Tenney still worries about the farmers – saying regular business costs are just too high.

“Even if we improve it you’re still going to see the problem that isn’t being taken into consideration especially in upstate new york with the high taxes on property,” said Tenney.

Farmers have until June 1 to enroll.

They can do so at the USDA website.

There’s a one-time fee of $100.

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