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Dairy farmers have until Friday to sign up for safety net program

Written by Rachel McDevitt | May 30, 2018 6:22 AM
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Dairyman Jason Martin walks past cows on his Waynesboro area farm on Monday, March 12, 2018. Dairy farmers are dealing with low prices and processors are taking action to deal with low demand nationwide. (Photo: Markell DeLoatch, Public Opinion)

(Harrisburg) -- Midstate dairy farmers have until the end of the week to sign up for a federal initiative to help minimize their losses.

The Margin Protection Program saw major changes in the budget Congress passed earlier this year.

The program was first authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill. It acts as a kind of insurance that pays enrolled farmers based on the difference between the national all-milk price and the national average feed cost. Farmers choose coverage margins between $4-8.

County Farm Service Agencies said changes like more frequent payment calculations and lower premium rates make the program more useful.

Cynthia Walters, an Agricultural Program Specialist, said the new enrollment period is unusual. It's retroactive to January 1st, so farmers will know ahead of time if they will get a payment.

"Usually they have to get their coverage before the beginning of the coverage year, and so this is a good opportunity for them to make a really informed decision," Walters said. "And so I'm really excited to see people getting in the door."

Because of the change, even farmers who signed up for 2018 coverage last year will need to re-enroll.

Interested farmers can contact their county Farm Service Agency before June 1st. 

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