Courtney Visits Ellington Farm And Discusses Today's MPP Announcement
NORWICH, CT —Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) visited Oakridge Dairy in Ellington, Connecticut’s largest dairy farm, to share the latest news from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on dairy support programs, among other topics. Courtney discussed today’s announcement that the USDA would be making $11.2 million in assistance available to Margin Protection Program (MPP) enrollees who purchased protection starting at the $6.00 per hundredweight level. While this is welcome news in many parts of the country, Connecticut margins have typically been narrower than the national average used by USDA which puts farmers in the region at a competitive disadvantage. In April, Courtney introduced bipartisan legislation to use regional margin calculations rather than a national average in the MPP which will improve the program for Connecticut farmers.
Courtney also used the visit as an opportunity to share the bipartisan, bicameral letter he led to USDA last week which was signed by 61 House and Senate members, asking for financial assistance to expand and maintain U.S. domestic dairy markets.
Rep. Courtney visiting Oakridge Dairy in Ellington on August 04, 2016. Photo courtesy: Rep. Courtney’s office (higher resolution image available upon request)
“While the national margin between milk prices and feed costs continues to shrink, dairy farmers in Connecticut—where energy and feed costs are typically greater—have been struggling with tight margins for the past year,” Courtney said. “The latest announcement on MPP payouts will certainly aid a number of struggling farms in Connecticut, but I am hopeful that this is only the first of several steps the USDA will take to turn the dairy industry around in the U.S.”
The MPP makes insurance payments when the dairy margin (the difference between milk prices and feed costs) drops below a farmer’s selected coverage level for two consecutive months. Farmers may purchase MPP insurance from the $4 margin up to an $8 margin. This is the first time the margin dropped below $6.00 per hundredweight since the MPP program was authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill.
In February 2015, Courtney visited Oakridge Dairy to discuss the MPP insurance and why margin protection is vital to Connecticut’s dairy farmers.
In April, Courtney penned the Dairy Margin Insurance Location Calculation Act of 2016 with Congressman Gibson (R-NY) to use regional margin calculations rather than a national average in the MPP.