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Local News

February 18, 2014

Local farmers urged to try bill's programs

Area farmers and others affected by its various provisions, were urged by a federal legislator at a Monday media conference to sign-up for the programs included in the recently passed farm bill.

Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, spoke about the issues Monday at the Unadilla farm of Mike and Tammy Barnes. He thanked the host farmers for their hard work, and expressed his appreciation for the team of industry officials who advised him on the issues and helped influence the outcome, most of whom spoke at the event as well.

On most of the provisions in the legislation that sets agricultural policy, including dairy price reform and crop insurance, farmers and others have to request the assistance from the appropriate agency, he said.

But doing so will ensure that “we get at least our share,” he said.

The farm bill is generally renewed every five years but the legislation, last approved in 2008, was delayed as lawmakers worked out differences in nutritional program benefits, and other issues.

Unlike the previous legislation that provided dairy farmers assistance based solely on the price of milk, the new margin protection program insures participants earn a margin of at least $4 per hundred pounds. This is the difference between the price they are paid for milk and the cost of grain, the most expensive input. When the price of grain spiked, farmers might have lost money on production under the previous system.

 Under the method that is expected to start by Sept. 1, “we can insure viability,” Gibson said. 

Farmers need to sign-up through the U.S.D.A. Farm Service Agency. They can be assured a $4 margin at no cost for the first 4 million pounds, equal to about the production of 200 cows. They can get additional margin insurance, up to $8, on a sliding scale.

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