Signups opened last week for the latest USDA dairy safety net program called the Dairy Margin Coverage Program. Farmers who sign up can get benefits based on the difference between milk prices and feed costs.
The program, which was written into the 2018 Farm Bill, is just one iteration of measures the Trump administration is taking to mitigate farmers' losses due to ongoing trade disputes. For dairy farms, the past few years have been especially tough because of low milk prices. The industry has also been affected by retaliatory tariffs from China, Canada and Mexico.
Rick Naerebout, the CEO of the Idaho Dairymen’s Association, says he expects nearly all Magic Valley dairy farmers to sign up for the Dairy Margin Coverage Program. But, he says, it likely won't cover the losses the farmers have experienced lately.
“The tariff relief program is going to fall significantly short of offsetting the impacts dairy producers across the country have felt from the trade wars," says Naerebout.
The Trump administration also announced a $16 billion trade mitigation program for all farmers in May. Payments as part of that program will begin to go out this summer.
But Naerebout says farmers would prefer to have access to free trade above all else.
"We want the revenue to come from the sale of what we produce, not a government check," he says.
Milk powder is the leading Idaho dairy export, according to a 2017 report. Most of the state’s dairy exports go to countries including Mexico, Korea and China.
Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen
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