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September 24, 2019

Dep. Secretary of Ag Sees Bright Spots in Trade, Dairy Margin Coverage Program

 |  By: Portia Stewart

Many dairy farmers still haven’t signed up for the Dairy Margin Coverage Program. U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Steve Censky urged dairy farmers to register for the improved program at the Ag Outlook Forum on Sept. 23 in Kansas City, Mo. He described the new Dairy Margin Protection Program (DMC) as much improved over the old program offered by the farm bill. 

“That’s one of the things that can actually put money in dairy farmers’ pockets,” he says. “[Congressman] Collin Peterson has said if a dairy farmer hasn’t signed up for the program, they’re out of their mind.” 

Censky also acknowledged that DMC is only one piece of a solution for dairy farmers. 

“Dairy farmers we recognize have been suffering and have been probably harder hit than almost any other sector,” he says. 

Censky also sees promise in increased market access, especially in countries like Mexico, the largest export market for dairy products. 

“I think it was positive when the retaliatory tariffs on steel and aluminum were removed, so that we could regain that market and our exports were not affected by Mexico’s countermeasures there,” he says. 

Censky also points to the trade agreement with Japan as a potential bright spot. “I think the upcoming announcement for the Japan agreement is very positive for dairy as well, and it will really improve our market access to the Japanese market,” he says. “Our hope is that the agreement can be implemented in the short term, starting as early as the beginning of the year.” 

USDA extended the deadline for dairy farmers to enroll in DMC to Sept. 27. DMC is authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill to provide price protection when the difference between the all-milk price and average feed cost (margin) falls below a dollar amount selected by the dairy farmer.

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