The National Milk Producers Federation is asking USDA for 60 extra days to enroll in the Dairy Margin Protection Program.
Dairy farmers would benefit from additional time to weigh their options for utilizing both crop insurance and the dairy margin insurance, NMPF said.
The USDA granted two sign-up extensions last year for farmers electing coverage under the MPP, which resulted in a last-minute surge of participation for calendar year 2015.
Those extensions "greatly helped to boost enrollment while not complicating the administrative workload of county USDA offices," wrote NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern.
NMPF says a similar extension this year should also boost participation in the MPP.
Premium deadline changes
Mulhern thanked the USDA for providing dairy farmers more flexibility in how they pay their premiums for insurance coverage in the future.
USDA will now allow farmers until September 1, 2016, to pay 100% of their premium (previously, that deadline was June 1). The new date allows producers to pay their premium in whole or in part any time prior to Sept. 1 of the coverage year.
That change also "could have a positive impact on farmers' decisions regarding next year's enrollment, but only if they have sufficient time to make an informed decision," NMPF wrote.
The USDA also said this week it will allow farmers to pay their premiums to county Farm Service Agency offices through milk check deductions, if a farmer works out such an arrangement with his/her milk handler.
A sign-up extension "would also allow the USDA to continue to work on certain program elements that still need resolution or clarification," Mulhern said.
Critical elements that remain unresolved, the group says, include enabling dairy farmers to purchase supplemental coverage without having their basic catastrophic coverage reduced below 90%; and protecting the next generation of farm families by accommodating intergenerational transfers of farm ownership.