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Farm bill with farmer-payment program extended for a year, Schumer says

By Eric Reinhardt (ereinhardt@cnybj.com)

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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D–N.Y.) is pictured at Har-Go Dairy in the town of Pavilion in Genesee County in June of this year. On Friday, Schumer announced a one-year extension of the Farm Bill, which includes a monthly price support payment program for New York farmers. (Photo credit: Office of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer)

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D–N.Y.) on Friday announced that he has secured an extension of the dairy margin coverage (DMC) program that he says farmers rely on.

The program was set to expire this year, which could have left farmers facing what Schumer called a “dairy cliff,” cutting off payments to farmers and harming consumers by raising the price of milk.

The senator secured the one-year extension of the Farm Bill in the continuing resolution budget deal that President Biden signed Friday, Schumer’s office said.

“Our dairy farmers are the beating heart of Upstate, and when they came to me worried that this year we could be going over the ‘dairy cliff,’ I immediately started ringing the cowbell and promised I would churn up support to ensure these payments wouldn’t lapse. I helped enact the Dairy Margin Coverage Program in the 2018 Farm Bill, and I am proud to have secured this vital year-long extension while we work to develop a bipartisan Farm Bill in the next year,” said Schumer. “Today our dairy farmers can breathe a sigh of relief and raise a glass of Upstate NY-made milk and more thoroughly enjoy this Thanksgiving.”

DMC significance

Schumer explained the “dairy cliff” refers to the expiration of the DMC program.

It’s described as a risk-management tool that offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed price (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer.

The dairy industry would be the first impacted, as dairy farmers would lose out on monthly payments through the DMC, whereas farmers participating in other support programs are paid just once per year around harvest time, Schumer’s office said.

If we went “over the dairy cliff,” that would have meant an end to monthly price-support payments to dairy farmers who participate in the DMC program; supply-chain disruptions causing increased milk prices; and “potentially billions” in wasted government spending as the federal government would be forced to make milk purchases at a “highly inflated price,” the senator said.

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