Schumer wants USDA to educate dairy farmers on insurance

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the Department of Agriculture (USDA) should be spending more money to educate dairy farmers on the new insurance program passed in the farm bill.

Earlier this year the Senate and House agreed on a five-year farm bill that included a new dairy support program to replace the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program.

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“While the new program will be an improvement over the previous system, the process will require dairies to make important decisions about their insurance, and I want to make sure the USDA is ready to help them every step of the way,” said Schumer Monday. “That’s why I’m asking them to ready their resources now and prioritize funds in the Farm Bill for technical assistance and outreach for dairy farmers.”

Schumer $6 million was included in the farm bill for technical assistance and outreach. He said he wanted the USDA to use those funds sooner than later to ensure farmers are ready to participate in the new insurance program by September.

“This new insurance program could be a better safety net for these small dairy farmers, but only if they get the know-how from USDA on the best course of action,” Schumer said. “So we want the feds to get ready long before September — when the new program goes into place — and devote significant online and in-person resources to helping dairies adjust.”

Under the new system, dairy farmers will have to make decisions on how much of their historical output to cover and at what margin level to elect coverage by Sept. 1. 

Although this change will require some additional assessments and adjustments, Schumer said, the new program will more accurately reimburse farmers for their loses.