WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) — a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee — announced the bipartisan budget agreement announced this week includes a major improvement to the farm safety net for Ohio’s dairy farmers to help them recover from tough economic times. Ohio is the 10th largest milk producing state in the country, producing 5,531 million pounds of milk in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“The current dairy program is falling short for Ohio dairy farmers who’ve been hard hit by excess production and tough market conditions,” said Brown. “This change would mean better and cheaper coverage for many Ohio dairymen, which will help Ohio’s rural communities and local economies.”
The bill makes specific updates to the 2014 Farm Bill’s Margin Protection Program (MPP), which has not been as responsive to the dairy market as intended. If passed, the bill will:
- Reduce costs for dairy farms. The bill substantially reduces premiums for farmers’ first five million pounds of milk, adjusted from the reduced premium cap of four million pounds of milk. This will make MPP more affordable for all farmers and make the safety net work better under current conditions. The higher cap will capture more than 86 percent of Ohio’s dairies — who produce under five million pounds per year — and also help out larger dairies who will still receive reduced premiums on their first five million pounds.
- Waive the administrative fee for underserved farmers including beginning farmers, young people and veterans.
- Make the program more responsive to drops in prices and increases in feed costs. It also triggers payments more quickly, by moving calculations and payments to a monthly rather than bimonthly basis.
- Invests $1 billion in the dairy safety net.
Brown is participating in hearings being held in the Senate Agriculture Committee on the 2018 Farm Bill, and was one of the lead negotiators for the last Farm Bill.