USDA said Tuesday that farmers could have until Nov. 20 to sign up for the Dairy Margin Protection Program, citing the busy fall harvest season.
The voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides financial assistance to participating farmers when the margin falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer.
Dairy groups asked for the extension last week, noting also that the original DMPP deadline of Sept. 30 was the same as the enrollment deadline for Price Loss Coverage and Agricultural Risk Coverage programs.
"The fall harvest is a busy time of the year for agriculture, so this extension will ensure that dairy producers have more time to make their choices," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. "We encourage all operations to examine the protections offered by this program, because despite the very best forecasts, markets can change."
The National Milk Producers Federation supported the decision. "A similar signup period extension last fall greatly helped to boost enrollment in the program in calendar year 2015. We believe this extension, until November 20th, will likewise enhance participation in the MPP in the coming year," said NMPF President Jim Mulhern.
Vilsack encouraged producers to use the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Agency Service online Web resource to calculate the best levels of coverage for their dairy operation. The secure website can be accessed via computer, smartphone or tablet.
He also reminds producers that were enrolled in 2015 that they need to make a coverage election for 2016 and pay the $100 administration fee.
Although any unpaid premium balances for 2015 must be paid in full by the enrollment deadline to remain eligible for higher coverage levels in 2016, premiums for 2016 are not due until Sept. 1, 2016. Also, producers can work with milk marketing companies to remit premiums on their behalf.
To enroll in the Margin Protection Program for Dairy, contact a local FSA county office.
Payments under the program may be reduced by a certain percentage due to a sequester order required by Congress and issued pursuant to the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985. Should a payment reduction be necessary, FSA will reduce the payment by the required amount.