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USDA adds to programs for dairy farmers

USDA announces additional assistance for small and medium-sized dairy operations that weathered the pandemic and now face other challenges. This includes a second round of payments through the Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program  (PMVAP) and its new Organic Dairy Marketing Assistance Program (ODMAP)

"The Biden-Harris administration continues to fulfill its commitments to fill gaps in pandemic assistance for producers. As a result, USDA is announcing a second set of payments of nearly $100 million to close out the $350 million commitment under PMVAP through partnerships with dairy handlers and cooperatives to deliver the payments," says USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. 

Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program

This Agricultural Marketing Service program helps farmers who received a lower value due to the market caused by the pandemic and ensuing federal policies. The program will pay farmers for fluid milk sales between 5 million and 9 million pounds from July through December 2020. The rates will be identical to the first round of payments, with 80% of the revenue difference per month. 

This production level was not eligible for payment under the program's first round. Over 25,000 dairy farmers with fluid milk production up to 5 million pounds from July to December 2020 received $250 million in payments.

With its second payment round, the monies will be distributed through agreements with independent handlers and cooperatives, with reimbursement to handlers for allowed administrative costs, says USDA. 

READ MORE: In 2023, farmers will see a weak global dairy market, say analysts

Organic Dairy Marketing Assistance Program

As a new program, ODMAP is still in development. The Farm Service Agency will oversee it to help small to medium-sized organic dairy farms that faced higher costs over the past several years that the ongoing pandemic and drought conditions across the country have compounded. 

Many small organic dairy operations need help to stay in business, according to data from USDA. The assistance will help eligible organic dairy producers with up to 75% of their future projected marketing costs in 2023, based on national estimates of marketing costs. The final spending will depend on enrollment and each producer's projected production, but ODMAP has been allocated up to $100 million.

The assistance will be a streamlined application process based on a national per hundredweight payment and capped at the first 5 million pounds of anticipated production. The funds will be supported by the unused Commodity Credit Corporation funds remaining from earlier pandemic assistance programs. 

READ MORE: Turn waste into wealth

More details about the Organic Dairy Marketing Assistance Program will be available and updated at as more details are released in a Notice of Funds Availability later this year, says USDA. 

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