Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced that the CARES Act-funded Dairy Indemnity Program has distributed $7.6 million in direct relief payments to 1,550 dairy farmers in the commonwealth. Any dairy farmer who experienced losses due to discarded or displaced milk during the COVID-19 pandemic was eligible to apply.
“Early in the pandemic in Pennsylvania, many of our dairy farmers were forced to dump milk and faced extreme uncertainty due to rapidly changing markets,” said Redding. “In this season of thanks, we are grateful that the legislature saw and met the needs of Pennsylvania’s dairy farmers with this program. These dollars don’t stop at the farm gate. They come back in your communities through grocery stores, schools, food banks, and more.”
Senators Judy Schwank and Elder Vogel, chairs of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, championed this CARES-Act funding for Pennsylvania’s dairy farmers and joined today’s announcement.
“The dairy indemnity program, funded by the CARES Act, was a great program to help 1,550 of our farmers weather COVID-19,” Schwank said. “But there are nearly 7,000 dairy farms in the Commonwealth. We have to recommit ourselves to doing everything we can to strengthen the industry.”
“During this difficult time, there was an even greater appreciation for the role dairy farmers plays in our economy and to the families of Pennsylvania,” said Vogel. “It is the Commonwealth’s most essential industry and providing the necessary state funding at this time is more critical than ever.”
To qualify for direct relief payments, farmer’s losses must have occurred between March 6, 2020 and September 30, 2020. Farmers were eligible for an immediate $1,500 in direct relief upon applying, followed by additional relief dollars with the remaining funds in the program.
Pennsylvania is home to nearly 7,000 dairy farms with an economic impact of $12 billion and more than 52,000 jobs. The commonwealth’s more than 500,000 cows produce more than 10.2 billion pounds of milk annually, ranking Pennsylvania seventh in the nation for total milk production.
Reminder: December 11 Deadline for 2021 Dairy Safety-Net Enrollment
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reminds dairy producers that the deadline to enroll in Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) for calendar year 2021 is Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) opened DMC signup in October to help producers manage economic risk brought on by milk price and feed cost disparities.
For DMC enrollment, producers must certify with FSA that the operation is commercially marketing milk, sign all required forms, and pay the $100 administrative fee unless the dairy operation qualifies for a limited resource, beginning, socially disadvantaged, or military veteran farmers and ranchers waiver.
Producers interested in DMC have the option to select a $4.00 catastrophic level of coverage with no premium fee or they can choose to buy-up coverage where the premium is based on margin triggers between $4.50 and $9.50 on 5 to 95 percent of established production history.
To determine the appropriate level of DMC coverage for a specific dairy operation, producers can utilize the recently updated online dairy decision tool. The decision tool is designed to demonstrate the historical performance of DMC and assist producers with calculating total premium costs and administrative fees associated with participation in DMC. An informational video is available, too.