Three federal lawmakers from Wisconsin are asking House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway to reform the Dairy Margin Protection Program, which provides producers with payments when dairy margins fall below the margin coverage levels. In a letter sent by Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, Mike Gallagher and Sean Duffy, the congressmen said a top priority in the 2018 Farm Bill should be to reform the MPP because it gave participants 'very little return' on their investment in recent years, despite the fact that farmers paid millions of dollars into the program.
"The dairy industry in Wisconsin and nationwide has faced significant struggles in recent years," the memo stated. "Our current trade challenges with Canada are particularly acute in 'America's Dairyland,' a major manufacturer of ultrafiltered milk, and our producers continue to struggle with labor costs and challenges. Moreover, milk prices deteriorated significantly last year, causing dairy farmers added pain during an already challenging climate."
Sensenbrenner added that American producers play a vital role in supplying the nation with fresh milk and other important agricultural products. He says programs like the MPP need to be re-evalulated in order to become more responsive to the needs of Wisconsin dairy farmers.
"As a longtime supporter of the agricultural industry, I remain committed to working with my colleagues to see these issues addressed in the final legislation," Sensenbrenner said.
Earlier this year, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue utilized his authority to provide dairy producers the ability to opt out of the Margin Protection Program for 2018.
The voluntary program established by the 2014 Farm Bill, MPP provides financial assistance to participating dairy producers when the margin--the difference between the price of milk and feed costs--falls below the coverage level selected by the producer. The program was meant to give producers the flexibility to select coverage levels best suited for their operation.
Meanwhile, enrollment for the next round of coverage ends on December 15 for coverage in calendar year 2018. Participating farmers will remain in the program through December 31, 2018, and pay a minimum $100 administrative fee for 2018 coverage.
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