Deadline extended to enroll in 2022 Dairy Margin programs

USDA has extended the deadline to enroll in Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) and Supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage (SDMC) for program year 2022. The deadline to apply for 2022 coverage is now March 25. As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s ongoing efforts to support dairy farmers and rural communities, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) opened DMC and SDMC signup in December 2021 to help producers manage economic risk brought on by milk price and feed cost disparities.

Enrollment for 2022 DMC is currently at 55% of the 2021 program year enrollment. Producers who enrolled in DMC for 2021 received margin payments each month, January through November for a total of $1.2 billion, with an average payment of $60,275 per operation.

The DMC program, created by the 2018 Farm Bill, offers reasonably priced protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer.

Supplemental DMC will provide $580 million to better help small- and mid-sized dairy operations that have increased production over the years but were not able to enroll the additional production. Now, they will be able to retroactively receive payments for that supplemental production.

After making any revisions to 2021 DMC contracts for Supplemental DMC, producers can sign up for 2022 coverage. DMC provides eligible dairy producers with risk management coverage that pays producers when the difference between the price of milk and the cost of feed falls below a certain level. So far in 2021, DMC payments have triggered for January through November for more than $1 billion.

For DMC enrollment, producers must certify with FSA that the operation is commercially marketing milk, sign all required forms and pay the $100 administrative fee. The fee is waived for farmers who are considered limited resource, beginning, socially disadvantaged, or a military veteran. To determine the appropriate level of DMC coverage for a specific dairy operation, producers can use the online dairy decision tool.

USDA has also changed the DMC feed cost formula to better reflect the actual cost dairy farmers pay for high-quality alfalfa hay. FSA now calculates payments using 100% premium alfalfa hay rather than 50%. In December 2021, following publication of the new feed cost policy, $102 million was paid to producers as a result of the revised high quality alfalfa feed cost formula.

The amended feed cost formula will make DMC payments more reflective of actual dairy producer expenses and DMC payments. Higher DMC feed cost calculations due to the premium alfalfa adjustment could more frequently trigger DMC indemnity payments for dairy operations having DMC coverage in 2022.