Speaking at a dairy farm in Sherburne on Monday, New York Sen. Charles Schumer urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture to follow through on some educational provisions of the recently passed farm bill.
The legislation that sets national agriculture policy included $6 million for technical assistance and outreach for dairy and crop insurance programs.
Standing outside a barn on the 200-cow Van Althuis farm on state Route 12, Schumer said, “I am in the town of Sherburne urging the USDA to prioritize these funds” and to start the education process.
The farm bill includes a new margin insurance program. At a premium, it guarantees participating farmers a certain profit when inputs, such as feed and fuel, are subtracted from the price they are paid for their product. It replaces the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC), that paid farmers a certain percentage when the price of milk fell below a set ceiling, without a premium.
But unlike the MILC program, farmers must choose several components that best fit their farm, before the new plan starts in September. This includes the amount of milk covered and the size of the margin. It is also based on historical output and business model.
“In order to benefit farmers as intended, they have to know all their options,” Schumer said.
But because the nature of their work means the time is limited, federal resources have been provided to help explain the insurance options. This includes $3 million for the USDA to partner with such organizations as Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Farm Service Agency. It also provides another $3 million for web-based tools.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chenango County Executive Director Kenneth Smith recognized Schumer for the work he has done on the farm bill, and other efforts that have helped protect farmers from the cycles of the world economy.