Dairy Farmer Disaster Aid

USDA Rolls Out Disaster Aid for Dairy Farmers Forced to Dump Milk

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Dairy producers forced to dump milk because of agricultural weather disasters in 2020, 2021 or 2022 can apply for aid under the Milk Loss Program, a new disaster program announced Monday by USDA. Enrollment for the program runs through Oct. 16. (DTN file photo)

OMAHA (DTN) -- Dairy farmers who were forced to dump milk without compensation during certain disasters in 2020, 2021 or 2022 are now eligible for the Milk Loss Program, a new aid program rolled out by USDA.

USDA announced signup for the Milk Loss Program (MLP), which started Monday and runs through Oct. 16. The program specifically helps milk producers and processors forced to dump or remove milk in 2020, 2021 and 2022 by compensating dairy farmers for up to 30 days of lost production per year.

The MLP provides aid for producers who dumped milk or saw their milk removed from the commercial market without compensation for disasters including "droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, floods, derechos, excessive heat, winter storms, freeze (including a polar vortex), and smoke exposure that occurred in the 2020, 2021 and 2022 calendar years. Tornadoes are considered a qualifying disaster event for calendar year 2022 only," USDA stated.

"Frequent and widespread weather-related disasters over the past three years have impacted U.S. dairy. These producers continue to face supply chain issues, high feed and input costs, labor shortages, and market volatilities," said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux.â?¯"The reality for dairy producers is that cattle are milked at least twice a day, producing on average six to seven gallons of milk per cow per day. That milk must go somewhere, and when it can't get where it needs to go and can't be stored due to circumstances beyond a producer's control, we need to help. The Milk Loss Program will help offset the economic loss by producers left with no other choice but dumping their milk during disasters."

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) noted dairy farmers produce a highly perishable product every day of the year. Dairy farmers find themselves "uniquely challenged by disaster events. NMPF encouraged farmers to enroll in the program as quickly as possible as well given the Oct. 16 enrollment deadline.

"On top of the challenges created by wild price gyrations and the COVID-19 pandemic, dairy farmers since 2020 have also faced an inadequate federal mechanism for addressing unforeseen weather catastrophes, further straining finances at a time when strains have been hard to bear," said Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEO. "NMPF never accepted that situation, and we're very appreciative of USDA's diligent work over several months to finalize the compensation plan that will address this backlog of disaster assistance."

Funding for the Milk Loss Program comes from the federal funding act passed by Congress last December and signed into law by the president. The bill provided $10 billion in disaster losses for 2020 and 2021 and a supplemental disaster funding bill that included $3 billion for agricultural disaster losses in 2022.

The milk loss claim period is each calendar month when milk was dumped or removed from the commercial market. Each MLP application covers the loss in a single calendar month. Milk loss that occurs in more than one calendar month due to the same qualifying weather event requires a separate application for each month. The duration of yearly claims is also limited to 30 days per year, USDA stated.

More details about the program and enrollment can be found at https://www.fsa.usda.gov/…

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com.

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Chris Clayton