WASHINGTON, D.C. [06/20/2018]—U.S. Senators Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has extended the enrollment deadline for the improved Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) following a letter from the senators requesting the extension. The MPP provides dairy producers with more cost-effective protections from shifting milk and feed prices by paying them when the difference between the national all-milk price and the national average feed cost (margin) falls below a certain dollar amount set by the producer. The new enrollment deadline is June 22, 2018.
“Our dairy farmers are the backbone of our economy, and we must do everything we can to help them during tough times like these,” Klobuchar said.“Extending the enrollment deadline for the Margin Protection Program offers our dairy farmers more time to sign up to receive the support that they need. I encourage the dairy farmers who are not yet enrolled in the program to sign up by June 22.”
“Earlier this year, I understood that farmers were in the middle of planting season—many of whom are also dairy farmers—when the deadline to enroll in this vital program was set to end. I wanted to give farmers more time because I know this makes a difference in rural communities,” said Sen. Smith. “The Margin Protection Program—which will now be known as Dairy Risk Coverage in the new Farm Bill—helps dairy producers weather difficult years and prevent losses, and I’m glad Secretary Perdue heeded our call so we can get more Minnesotans signed up.”
As a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Klobuchar has long been an advocate for Midwestern farmers. The 2018 Farm Bill, which passed the Senate Agriculture Committee on June 13, included several of Klobuchar’s priorities such as provisions to invest an additional $100 million to improve affordability and flexibility for small dairy producers, create an animal disease and disaster response program, improve agriculture data research of conservation practices to help farmers reduce risk and increase profitability, and protect the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) funding. Klobuchar also helped craft and supported the improvements to the MPP for dairy that were included in the Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2018. The final bill gave producers another chance to sign-up or change coverage levels for 2018, targeted benefits to small and medium-sized farms, and removed an arbitrary cap on dairy insurance that allows for innovative new risk management tools.
Smith fought for and won a spot on the Senate Agriculture Committee, and she’s a leader of the Rural Development and Energy Subcommittee. In preparation for the Farm Bill debate, she formed her “Farm Bill Working Group” to hear from farmers, ranchers, and community leaders—as well as experts on nutrition, energy, and conservation to make sure Minnesota priorities are included in the legislation. She and her staff have traveled across Minnesota to hear from Minnesotans on the state’s Farm Bill priorities, and the Committee-passed bill included several provisions authored and championed by Sen. Smith. These include things like many parts of Sen. Smith’s Farm Bill energy title road map, her Community Connect Grant Program to expand rural broadband, provisions that would direct USDA funding to assist veterans with ag jobs after their service, and the bipartisan Timber Innovation Act.