U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack told a Senate Ag Committee hearing a new Dairy Producer Margin Protection Program (MPP) will be ready by the Farm Bill’s Sept. 1 deadline. Senate Ag Committee chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) convened the hearing, May 7, to examine USDA’s ongoing implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill.
“The dairy program will be set up and functional by September,” said Vilsack. He noted the department expected to have program details available later this summer, according to a release from the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA).
Under the new Farm Bill, the Dairy Product Price Support Program and the Dairy Export Incentive Program were both repealed. It also called for discontinuing the Milk Income Loss Contract program by Sept. 1, 2014, or earlier, depending on when the MPP is available to dairy farmers.
Vilsack also provided on update on federal disaster programs implemented in April.
USDA received about 33,000 applications for disaster assistance programs within the first two weeks of signup that began on April 15, Vilsack said. Almost $20 million in payments have been issued to producers under the Livestock Forage Disaster Program, Livestock Indemnity Program, Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program and others.
Over 95% of the applications received to date were for the Livestock Forage Program (LFP), which provides payments to eligible producers for grazing losses. Vilsack said high number of applicants is no surprise considering the widespread, ongoing drought that has plagued livestock producers in many portions of the United States over the last several years.
As of May 1, USDA has received 31,920 applications for LFP and producers have already been paid on nearly 80% of these applications.