Senator Leads Colleagues in Urging U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to Extend Deadline for Vital Program Set to End June 1
WASHINGTON, D.C. [05/31/18]—Today, U.S Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) led a bipartisan effort—joined by Sen. Amy Klobuchar—to help more dairy farmers in Minnesota and across the country by calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to extend the June 1 deadline to enroll in the improved Margin Protection Program (MPP), which helps dairy producers weather difficult years and prevent further losses on their farms and in the rural communities they support.
The MPP was created in the last Farm Bill in order to give farmers more stability as milk or feed prices change, but improvements were needed as milk prices dropped and feed costs rose. Fortunately, these improvements were included in the bipartisan budget agreement earlier this year. The USDA implemented the new MPP retroactive to January 1 and the enrollment period opened on April 9.
“We are writing to request that you provide a 30 day extension for re-enrollment in the Margin Protection Program (MPP) for dairy farmers from the current deadline of June 1, 2018,” wrote Sen. Smith and her colleagues to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “We understand that farmers are in the middle of spring planting season, many of whom are also dairy farmers. An extension would provide dairy farmers in our states the additional time needed to evaluate the MPP program and the changes that were made in the Bipartisan Budget Act.”
In the letter, Sen. Smith, along with Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) noted that the USDA provided similar extensions in 2014 and 2016.
You can read a copy of the letter by clicking here or reading below:
May 31, 2018
The Honorable Sonny Perdue
Secretary of Agriculture
United States Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20250
Dear Secretary Perdue,
We are writing to request that you provide a 30 day extension for re-enrollment in the Margin Protection Program (MPP) for dairy farmers from the current deadline of June 1, 2018. We understand that farmers are in the middle of spring planting season, many of whom are also dairy farmers. An extension would provide dairy farmers in our states the additional time needed to evaluate the MPP program and the changes that were made in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-123).
The MPP changes included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 make a significant investment in the dairy industry that will help mitigate the serious challenges many producers are facing. We are thankful that USDA followed congressional intent and implemented the new MPP retroactive to January 1, 2018. Data released by USDA is already indicating that many [small and medium sized] dairy farms enrolled in 2018 coverage will receive payments for the low all-milk prices during the earlier months of this year. Additional time for enrollment will give producers the opportunity to evaluate how the new program may work for their farm. USDA has provided similar extensions in 2014 and 2016.
Previous extensions have shown evidence that enrollment grows when the sign-up period is extended, and we urge USDA to continue further outreach and assistance in a farmer-friendly way should an extension be granted.
Thank you for the work you do on behalf of America’s farmers and ranchers, and thank you in advance for considering our requests.