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Farm Bill Brings Certainty, Change to Northeast Agriculture


Photo credit Bob Sunderland


Written by Joanna Lidback

The 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law late yesterday, December 20, 2018. It passed overwhelmingly in both the House (369-47) and Senate (87-13). There are several important aspects included for our Northeast producers, including some much needed policy certainty.

Highlights of the bill include strengthening the dairy safety net, reauthorizing and strengthening the Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage crop insurance programs through 2023, increasing the cap for direct and guaranteed Farm Service Agency financing, and removing hemp from the controlled substance list.

There were several changes made to the Margin Protection Program for dairy, including a name change to Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC).

Here’s a brief synopsis:
  • Coverage levels were increased from $8.00 per cwt, adding $8.50, $9.00, and $9.50 levels for the first five million pounds of milk production.
  • The range of production allowed to be covered was increased to 95% of production history.
  • Premiums were lowered, and for producers who choose to lock in a coverage level for all five years of the program, rates are reduced by 25 percent.
  • Coverage level decisions for amounts greater than five million pounds can be made independently from Tier I in Tier II levels. This should encourage larger dairies to participate.
  • Additionally, the restriction on simultaneously using this program and the Livestock Gross Margin-Dairy (LGM-Dairy) program was dropped.
Perhaps the most surprising change was that this new program will allow producers to recoup MPP premium previously paid in 2014-2017. They can choose to apply 75 percent of the net premium paid to future DMC premiums, or to receive 50 percent of the net premium paid as a direct refund.

Removing hemp from the controlled substances list of classified drugs allows production under state or USDA regulated system.  This may be an opportunity for diversification or new farming operations. Hemp will not be eligible for Title I commodity programs, but it will be eligible for crop insurance.

There are several articles that break down the details of the final farm bill language. Here are a few for more information:

The 2018 Farm Bill: What You Need to Know
Final Farm Bill Released as Congress Pushes for Vote
Reviewing the 2018 Farm Bill Baseline

We will share more information about update dairy risk management tools and calculators as they become available.
For more information on crop insurance, please contact our Crop Growers agent
Charlie Messenger at or 800-545-1169.


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