In 2009, a perfect storm of plummeting milk prices and high feed costs combined to push dairy margins to the brink. Thousands were forced out of business and many of those who survived went deep into debt. Nationwide, dairy farmers lost $20 billion in net equity between 2007 and 2009.
Clearly, the dairy farmers needed a new safety net. It took five years of work, but Congress finally responded by including a new Dairy Producer Margin Protection Program in the 2014 farm bill. It wasn’t everything the National Milk Producers Federation wanted. But the 950-page bill does feature the most significant rewrite of dairy policy in more than a generation. The program will help address the volatility in farmers’ milk prices, as well as feed costs, and provide appropriate signals to help address imbalances in supply and demand. Overall, it provides a more effective and reasonable safety net for dairy farmers. And whatever its shortcomings, it is far better than the programs it replaced.
Through this website, read about what the new program is, why it was needed, and, most importantly in the months ahead, how it is being implemented.