Several U.S. Senators are calling on the USDA to extend the June 1 deadline for dairy producers to enroll in the improved Margin Protection Program (MPP). The MPP helps dairy producers weather difficult years and prevent further losses on their farms and in the rural communities they support.
The MPP was created in the last Farm Bill in order to give farmers more stability as milk or feed prices change, but improvements were needed as milk prices dropped and feed costs rose. Fortunately, these improvements were included in the bipartisan budget agreement earlier this year. The USDA implemented the new MPP retroactive to January 1 and the enrollment period opened on April 9.
“We are writing to request that you provide a 30 day extension for re-enrollment in the Margin Protection Program (MPP) for dairy farmers from the current deadline of June 1, 2018,” wrote U.S Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and her colleagues to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “We understand that farmers are in the middle of spring planting season, many of whom are also dairy farmers. An extension would provide dairy farmers in our states the additional time needed to evaluate the MPP program and the changes that were made in the Bipartisan Budget Act.”
In the letter, Sen. Smith, along with Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) noted that the USDA provided similar extensions in 2014 and 2016.