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MADISON – The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation applauds the budget deal approved by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump on Friday, Feb. 9.

“We thank Wisconsin’s congressional leaders Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Speaker Paul Ryan, Rep. Glenn Grothman, Rep. Sean Duffy and Rep. Mike Gallagher for their important votes on this package,” Wisconsin Farm Bureau President Jim Holte said. “Wisconsin farmers are stressed, and these improved policies can help.”

The continuing resolution and budget deal provides disaster assistance and various other important agricultural provisions to support farmers.

“We are very pleased to see positive changes to the policies for dairy farmers,” Holte said.

Specifically, with the Margin Protection Program the catastrophic coverage level will be raised from $4 to $5 for the first tier of covered production for all dairy farmers. The first tier will also be adjusted to include every dairy farmer’s first five million pounds of annual milk production (formerly four million pounds of covered production).

To better enable dairy farmers to afford the higher levels of coverage, premium rates for every farmer’s first five million pounds of production will be reduced, effective immediately.
 
Additionally, the margin calculation will be modified to a monthly basis (formerly bi-monthly) to make the program more accurate and responsive during difficult months. The annual $100 administrative fee will be waived for underserved farmers. USDA will reopen the program signup for a minimum 90 days in 2018.
 
In addition to these reforms to MPP, the legislation also removes the $20 million annual cap on all livestock insurance, including the Livestock Gross Margin program. This will allow a wider variety of additional risk management tools for dairy farmers to have an alternative to MPP.

The Farm Service Agency is working through how to implement these changes to best serve farmers.

“Farmers should look for enrollment and eligibility specifics in the weeks ahead and contact their local FSA office for additional details,” Holte said. “Continued communication on these changes will be important.”

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