Vermont dairy farmers can now sign up for an improved insurance program to help them when the gap between milk prices and feed prices reaches a certain level.
The new insurance program was created as part of the 2018 farm bill. Vermont officials had expressed concern last winter that the federal government’s 35-day shutdown would delay implementation, and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue committed earlier this year to opening the sign-up period by June 17.
“I am proud to say that our (Farm Service Agency) staff worked hard to meet that challenge as one of the department’s top Farm Bill implementation priorities since President Trump signed it last December,” he wrote in statement last week.
The program will provide retroactive coverage to Jan. 1 and will also offer reimbursement or credit for premiums that farmers paid between 2014 and 2017 for a different program. While both were designed to provide protection for farms when the margin between milk and feed prices reaches a certain threshold, the new program offers wider coverage.
The new program is open to all dairy operations nationwide.
Vermont Public Radio reports that the insurance program comes after a four-year period of low milk prices, though the latest USDA dairy report shows milk prices rising over the first half of 2019.
While waiting for the insurance program to begin this spring, some farmers said while they appreciated the help, it wouldn’t tackle the underlying challenges they face due to evolving consumer demands and unresolved trade issues that are harming exports.