Sussex, NJ – Bipartisan legislation that would assist the state’s struggling dairy farmers, sponsored by Senator Steve Oroho and Senate President Steve Sweeney, passed the Senate today.
The bill, S-3465, would direct the State Department of Agriculture to provide reimbursement to dairy farmers for annual premiums paid to participate in the federal Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.
“This legislation will help preserve the remaining dairy farms, protecting them from unstable milk prices in the marketplace that threaten profitability, and enabling them to remain in business in a stress-filled environment,” said Oroho (R-Sussex/Warren/Morris).
“It wasn’t long ago that the Garden State was home to more than 400 dairy farms, but today the number has dropped below 50,” Oroho continued. “In the face of increasing financial and societal pressures, dairy farmers work seven-day weeks caring for the cows and fighting to sustain their operation.”
Established by the federal 2018 Farm Bill, the DMC is essentially an annual insurance policy against milk prices too low to cover overhead.
“With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis teaching hard lessons on risk management throughout agriculture and with dairy margins expected to be volatile over the next year, farmers need the option of securing coverage under the dairy margin program,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “This program offers certainty in times of need. The coverage is designed to protect individuals from having to pay very high out-of-pocket costs, and offers coverage in times of emergencies.”
A voluntary risk management tool for dairy producers, the program issues payments when the national average income-over-feed-cost margin falls below a coverage determined by the individual farmers.
The legislation would encourage participation in the program and make it easier for farmers to afford the coverage.
Only 23 dairy farmers, barely half the milk producers in New Jersey, applied to participate in the program in 2019.
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