(Host) Vermont dairy farmers will be able to sign up for a new federal dairy program beginning this Tuesday. The subsidy program was championed by Vermont’s congressional delegation, and authorized by this year’s farm bill.
Louise Calderwood is Vermont’s Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture. She says that the new federal program is known as a “counter-cyclical direct dairy payment.”
(Calderwood) “It is a payment directly to dairy farmers that is made only when the price of milk is low, that’s the counter-cyclical portion. It is based on what we knew as the Northeast Dairy Compact, works very much on the same premise. That when the market price for milk is very low, farmers receive the difference between the market price and a set price.”
(Host) Calderwood expects the signup for the program will be slow at first. She says farmers still don’t have all the details on how the program will be administered and implemented. Questions also remain about a cap on production.
(Calderwood) “Payments will only be made on the first 2.4 million pounds of milk produced on a farm. What we do not have a clear answer on at this time is whether or not that cap will be implemented per farm, or per producer. There are also questions of, once a farmer signs up, do they receive the payments until the 2.4 million pounds of milk cap has been reached, or can they pick months in which they receive the payments? And that’s very important because it’s not just a set payment, it is based on the difference between the market price and a predetermined floor. So understandably the farmers would like to receive the payments in the months that the price of milk is the lowest.”
(Host) Milk producers can sign up for the new dairy program by going to their local USDA office.