USDA updates dairy insurance program
Dairy farmers squeezed in recent years by low milk prices and high feed costs can begin signing up next week for a new program replacing old subsidies that didn't factor in the price of corn.
Sign-ups for the program will run Sept. 2 to Nov. 28, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Thursday. Farmers must enroll then to participate in the program in what's left of 2014 and in 2015. There will be annual sign-ups after that.
The new program is a kind of insurance that pays farmers when the difference between milk prices and feed prices shrinks to a certain level. The previous program paid farmers when milk prices sank too low, but it didn't account for their costs.
Dairy farmers have struggled in recent years even with good milk prices. Feed costs rose because of demand for corn from the ethanol industry and droughts, including one in 2012 that covered two-thirds of the nation.