continued “That would mean a little over a month’s worth of milk for a larger farm,” said Wood, speaking before the last-minute fiscal cliff deal was reached. “The MILC is aimed at smaller farms. This extension would mean smaller farms maintaining pricing for most of the year.”
Wood’s farm has a little over 1,000 cows, which puts him in the larger range.
“It will help a little bit, for sure, but the bigger the farm, the less impact. The smaller the farm, the bigger impact,” said Wood.
Southworth hopes the extension will be a good sign for the farming community in Saratoga County.
“Agriculture is the main industry in the Town of Ballston and Saratoga County in general,” said Southworth. “Agriculture success is vital to the success of this county as a whole.”
Still no forward progress
While the fiscal cliff deal has averted a crisis, what it does not do is tackle agricultural issues that have been on the table for some time. Legislators had been discussing a new round of programs to insert into an upgraded Farm Bill. A new bill is generally passed every five years, and is now several months overdue.
According to the United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, a new Farm Bill would end direct payments, strengthen crop insurance and encourage an innovative risk management approach that only provides assistance to farmers when their businesses are threatened by risks outside their control.
Farmers would have access to a single, risk-based coverage program called Ag Risk Coverage that complements crop insurance to protect against both price and yield losses.
Of particular concern to local dairy farmers are two new programs that would replace existing programs. The Dairy Production Market Protection Program is a voluntary program that would protect dairy farm margins equal to the difference between the milk prices and a national feed cost. For small and medium-sized farms, additional margin protection is offered on the first 4 million pounds of milk marketed (the annual production of approximately 200 cows).