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We are encouraged that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) principles for the next farm bill, released by Secretary Sonny Perdue on Jan. 24, start with improving the farm safety net. The current farm bill’s dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) has proven to be inadequate in providing help to America’s dairy farmers, and fixing it must be a priority in 2018.

The USDA has taken significant steps at NMPF’s request in the past three years to improve the MPP, but now legislative changes are needed. NMPF continues to work with USDA and lawmakers in the House and Senate to strengthen the MPP to ensure meaningful assistance for those relying on it, and to find ways to expand risk management options for farmers.

Making the MPP a reliable program for dairy farmers is vital to encouraging future farmer participation in the program. Additional risk management tools are also critical for the future of our dairy farmer community. Raising the current expenditure cap on programs available under USDA’s Risk Management Agency is vital to increasing the toolbox of options for farmers.

As we begin 2018, milk prices and on-farm dairy margins are poor. It’s time to expand access to risk management tools and rectify the flaws in the MPP to create a workable safety net for dairy farmers.”

Mulhern is President and CEO of National Milk Producers Federation

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