July 22, 2016

Could USDA Extend MPP Enrollment? Lawmakers Hope So

 |  By: Anna-Lisa Laca

The Margin Protection Program – Dairy opened for 2017 enrollment on July 1 and is set to close on September 1. Thursday, led by ranking member Collin Peterson, members of the House Agriculture committee and Senate Agriculture Committee urged USDA to extend the enrollment deadline to December 31.

In a letter sent to Secretary Vilsack, the group urged an extension of the enrollment period due to low milk prices and the need to get more farmers enrolled in the program. “The new Margin Protection Program (MPP) is not perfect but we will continue to look for ways to make improvements to the current safety net,” they wrote. “We are asking for you to permanently extend the MPP sign up period to December 31 to encourage additional participation.”

Participation in the program has been smaller than expected. In 2016 nearly 24,000 farmers enrolled in the program and the majority of those were at the catastrophic coverage level. Many of those who enrolled did so after a deadline extension, according to the lawmakers.

“We have seen clear evidence that enrollment grows when the sign up period is extended,” they wrote. “USDA has extended the sign up period for the last two years. Last year roughly 16,000 farmers were enrolled at the original September 30 deadline. An additional 7,190 farmers enrolled after this was extended to November 20.”

The bi-partisan group of lawmakers seeking the extension believe that giving producers additional time to make the decision will better the program and improve participation.