WASHINGTON – After Congress passed a two-year bipartisan budget deal, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, applauded the victories for Connecticut dairy farmers included in the agreement. The deal provides $1 billion in immediate relief to dairy producers, makes significant improvements to the Margin Protection Program-Dairy (MPP) – a program to help farmers when the price of milk drops – and allows for the development of new insurance products for dairy farmers. Murphy has advocated for changes to MPP and has been fighting in Congress along with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Representatives Joe Courtney (CT-2), John Larson (CT-1), and Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) to provide additional assistance to dairy farmers grappling with declining milk prices.
“The changes included in the budget deal are great news for Connecticut’s dairy producers. Falling milk prices have hit farmers in my state hard, and these policy reforms and financial investments will help them start to pick up the pieces,” said Murphy. “There’s more we need to do in the 2018 Farm Bill, and I’ll keep visiting with farmers across Connecticut to get their ideas and bring home the real, tangible support they deserve.”
Connecticut’s dairy producers contribute nearly $1.3 billion and 4,286 jobs to the state annually. However, farm milk prices are forecasted to drop in 2018, and Connecticut’s already struggling dairy farmers would be in dire straits without immediate federal action. Last month, Murphy launched his 2018 ‘Our Farm Bill’ listening campaign and online portal to hear firsthand from Connecticut’s agricultural community about their ideas and goals for the upcoming 2018 reauthorization of the Farm Bill.
The two-year bipartisan budget agreement includes the following major victories for dairy farmers:
- Reduces MPP premium costs by nearly 70% for small and medium sized farmers and makes more farms eligible for these lower premiums
- Makes the MPP more responsive to market conditions and farmer needs by allowing for a monthly payment calculation, instead of a bimonthly calculation
- Waives the MPP’s $100 administrative fee for underserved producers, such as beginning farmers, veterans and socially disadvantaged farmers
- Directs the USDA Secretary to reopen the signup for MPP in 2018 under these new program terms, thus giving dairy farmers who want to access the program under these new terms the immediate opportunity to do so
- Removes the $20 million cap on USDA’s underwriting costs for the Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) program