Friday deadline for dairy producers


In modern agriculture, there is much we can control, but two dynamics remain beyond our reach: weather
and markets. The unpredictability of both, and sudden changes in either, can disrupt any family farming
Ohio dairy producers know these dynamics firsthand. The 2014 Farm Bill provides a safety net, in the form
of the new Margin Protection Program for dairy, so that when unforeseen swings in markets occur, dairy
producers are better protected and family businesses remain strong. The Margin Protection Program for
dairy, was created in this Farm Bill to shield against when the margin – the difference between the
price of milk and feed costs – falls below the levels of coverage selected by participating dairy
However, this safety net is not automatic. Dairy producers must visit their Farm Service Agency office to
enroll before Dec. 5 to lock in these protections for 2014 and 2015. For $100 dairy producers can cover
90 percent of their production at $4 margin swings. With affordable incremental premiums, they can cover
$8 margin swings.
Dairy producers not sure of how the Margin Protection Program works or what it means, should contact the
Farm Service Agency or OSU Extension. USDA’s online resource also can help. Go to, type in operation data and explore price projections and market scenarios to
determine how the program works. (The website also allows anyone to compare how this program would have
performed in previous years like 2008 when margins dropped from $8 to $3 in just three months.) The
online resource is on a secure website that can be accessed by computer, mobile phone or tablet, 24
hours a day, seven days a week.
Everyone can share comments and help shape the Margin Protection Program for the future. According to
statistics, more than 90 percent of dairy farms are family-owned and operated, often by multiple
generations. USDA is committed to supporting family farmers and creating strong opportunities for the
next generation of dairy farmers. But we need to hear from producers and the public about how best to
make the Margin Protection Program work for everyone.
American agriculture has a long and proud history of providing historic bounty and economic benefit to
the whole society. This Farm Bill and its provisions ensure that for the future.
Submit comments via the website at or send them by mail to:
Danielle Cooke, Special Programs Manager, Price Support Division, FSA, USDA, STOP 0512, 1400
Independence Ave. SW., Washington, DC, 20250-0512. Although enrollment in the Margin Protection Program
ends Friday, comments will be accepted until Dec. 15.
Don’t wait to question, comment or enroll. Today’s market conditions can turn on a dime, affecting both
producers and consumers. This program affects us all.
(Steven Maurer is the State Executive Director for USDA’s Farm Service Agency in Ohio. To learn more
about the Margin Protection Program for dairy, contact your County’s Farm Service Agency.

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