The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to open enrollment for the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program as soon as possible. In a letter sent today to USDA officials, AFBF Vice President of Public Policy Sam Kieffer expressed concerns about the program's delayed launch, which has left dairy farmers vulnerable to market risks while other agricultural sectors benefit from open enrollment in other risk management programs.
"Concerns related to delayed payments and their impact on farm cash flow are escalating among many of our dairy farmer members," Kieffer wrote in the letter. "DMC program payments are triggered when margins are at their worst; and timely payments are critical to helping farmers manage through those bad times."
The DMC program, offered through the farm bill, provides financial support to dairy farmers when the difference between the price they receive for their milk and the cost of feed falls below a certain threshold. This safety net is particularly crucial during periods of low milk prices and high feed costs, which can significantly squeeze farm profitability.
The delay in opening DMC enrollment has left many dairy farmers exposed to these risks, while other agricultural sectors have been able to access similar risk management programs since December 18th, 2023. This disparity has created a sense of unfairness and frustration among dairy producers who are already facing challenging market conditions.
Kieffer emphasized the importance of timely program administration in ensuring a stable and resilient farm economy. "Timely administration of farm bill programs is vital to ensuring a stable farm economy that provides food security to millions of consumers domestically and abroad," he stated.
The AFBF urged the USDA to expedite the necessary regulatory and software updates to enable the immediate launch of DMC enrollment. This action is critical to provide much-needed financial security to dairy farmers and ensure a level playing field for all agricultural sectors.