Deadline approaching for dairy farmers

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has set a June 1 deadline to sign up for the Margin Protection Program for dairy farmers.

The USDA will then begin issuing checks to milk producers who signed up early for the February and March margins, as an incentive for enrolling before the June 1 deadline and to offer immediate help to dairy farmers struggling with low milk prices.

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who authored the MPP improvements and steered them into law as part of the Appropriations/budget agreement in February, had also fought to make the MPP improvements retroactive to the early months of this year. Leahy's office said the USDA reported that the final data for the April margin level will come out on May 30, so farmers will know what the payout will be for February, March and April, and they then will have two final days to sign up for MPP if they have not done so by then.

USDA reports that nationwide the agency has seen a slow but steady stream of farmers re-enrolling their operations under the Leahy-led improvements, but enrollment in Vermont, so far, has been lagging the nationwide rate.

Based on the latest USDA forecasts it appears that thanks to the MPP retroactive coverage changes for 2018, for more than 90 percent of the farmers previously enrolled in the program, coverage during 2018 is already guaranteed to be profitable - that is, program payments will be greater than the insurance premiums and farmers will have until September 1 to pay premiums. The USDA has an online calculator that allows producers to quickly predict the outcome for their farms.

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