Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today announced that the Senate-passed final version of the Farm Bill includes a proposal she fought for that would put money back into the pockets of New York dairy farmers who paid into a failed system that did not help them when milk prices dropped. Gillibrand has been fighting for this funding since earlier this year when she introduced the Dairy Premium Refund Act.
“I am thrilled to announce our dairy farmers are finally getting some of the relief they need and deserve as part of the Farm Bill,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Our dairy farmers have been suffering from abysmally low milk prices, unfair trade policies, and a failed insurance system for too long. The final version of the Farm Bill that passed the Senate yesterday afternoon was our last chance this year to finally fix some of these problems, and I applaud my colleagues for including my provision to issue a refund to farmers who were hurt after buying into the failed Dairy Margin Protection Program. I will always do everything I can to fight for our dairy farmers, and I urge my House colleagues and the President to do the same and pass this bill immediately.”
The final version of the Senate passed Farm Bill Conference Report would return premiums paid by famers for the Dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) program between 2014-2017 as either a 50 percent refund or a 75 percent credit toward purchase of new Dairy Risk Coverage (DRC) program.
The Senate-passed final version of the Farm Bill is expected to be voted on in the U.S. House of Representatives this week and sent to the President to be signed into law.
The Dairy Margin Protection Program is the main insurance option for dairy farmers to protect their revenue when the price they receive for their milk falls or feed costs rise. Since 2014, thousands of New York dairy farmers paid millions of dollars to the USDA for this coverage, but when milk prices and feed prices fell at the same time, most farmers lost money on every pound of milk they sold and never received a payment. This flawed program left producers vulnerable as milk prices fell below the cost of production causing many farmers to lose money on every pound of milk they produced. The provision in the Farm Bill would allow dairy producers would have two options to get their money back – either a 50 percent refund, or a 75 percent credit toward the purchase of a new dairy insurance program.
The new dairy insurance program features lower premiums at all levels of coverage and farmers can insure up to $9.50 per hundredweight with significant discounts available for multi-year policies. The Farm Bill also gives dairy farmers the option to use different types of insurance tools to help cover the milk they produce, and includes a Milk Donation Program that will help cooperatives better balance milk supply while nutrition assistance to families in need.