The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 that passed in early February contained policy changes that affect the dairy safety net provisions in the current farm bill programs. Specifically, these changes affect the Margin Protection Program (MPP) and the Livestock Gross Margin –Dairy Program. The team at the Dairy Markets and Policy web site has put out a briefing paper that outlines the changes to the dairy MPP and provides some examples of how those changes would affect various size dairy farms. That paper is available at https://dairymarkets.org/ as a pdf file. Recently the Ohio Dairy Producers Association (ODPA) put out a succinct summary of the policy changes that I am copying in the following paragraph.
The specific changes to the dairy safety net programs contained in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 include the following:
- Adjust the first tier of covered production to include each farm's first 5 million pounds of annual milk production (about 217 cows) instead of 4 million pounds, a recognition of the growth in herd sizes across the country.
- Raise the catastrophic coverage level from $4.00 to $5.00 for the first tier (5 million pounds) of covered production for ALL dairy farmers.
- Reduce the premium rates for every producer's first 5 million pounds of production, to better enable dairy farmers to afford the higher levels of coverage that will provide more meaningful protection against low margins. No changes were made to the second tier of premiums.
- Modify the margin calculation to a monthly basis to make the program more accurate and responsive to producers in difficult months.
- Waive the annual $100 administrative fees for "underserved" farmers, defined as those who meet certain criteria defined by the Agriculture Secretary, including limited resource, beginning, veteran or socially disadvantaged farmers.
- Direct USDA to immediately reopen the program signup for 2018.
- Remove the $20 million annual cap on all livestock insurance, including the Livestock Gross Margin-Dairy program. This will allow USDA to develop and/or approve additional risk management tools for dairy producers that can complement MPP-Dairy.
Signup for the program will be through county USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices. I stopped in to the Wayne County FSA office on February 28 and at that time; they did not have information on when MPP program signup would open. A postcard from FSA will be sent out to producers with program and signup details when that information is known.
Fertilizer Applicator Certification Training March 14
Senate Bill 150 requires fertilizer applicators to obtain certification if they apply commercial fertilizer (not manure) to more than 50 acres. Fertilizer applied through the planter box as a starter fertilizer is not included in this requirement. The certification requirement is for both private and commercial applicators of fertilizer (not manure).
Wayne and Holmes County Extension offices are offering a fertilizer applicator certification training on Wednesday, March 14 from 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm at Fisher Auditorium located on the OARDC campus in Wooster. The cost of the certification training is $35/person. Pre-register by contacting the Wayne County Extension office at 330-264-8722 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also an on-line pre-registration system available. The link to that registration site is http://www.cvent.com/d/1tq20v.
The other option available to obtain fertilizer applicator certification is to take an Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) supervised exam. Go on-line to reserve a test spot at http://go.osu.edu/ODAexamregistration or by phone to the ODA Pesticide Division at (800) 282-1955, ext. 31. We still have one ODA exam session scheduled for the Fisher Auditorium conference room on April 18 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Other sessions are scheduled at other locations around the state and there is always testing available in Reynoldsburg at ODA. For anyone using the exam option to obtain certification, I can provide them with a certification manual to study for the test or pdf file of the study manual is available on-line at https://nutrienteducation.osu.edu/trainingopportunities.
Ohio Smart Agriculture Forum
The Ohio Smart Agriculture initiative is seeking feedback and input from any interested producer to help the team identify, design, and deploy strategies to support a sustainable, resilient agriculture in Ohio. The goal is preserve our local agriculture and envision production models that will allow farms to thrive into the future. Come and share your views and recommendations at the March 15 Ohio Smart Agriculture Forum at Fisher Auditorium from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. RSVP to Shannon Mott at email@example.com .