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MPP Dairy

Dairy producers are reminded about MPP-Dairy signup

Dairy producers are reminded that the sign-up period for the 2017 Milk Margin Protection Program for Dairy producers (MPP-Dairy) is underway and runs from July 1-September 30, 2016 at your local FSA office. Participating farmers will remain in the program through 2018 and pay a minimum $100 administrative fee each year. Producers have the option of selecting a different coverage level during open enrollment each year.

The MPP-Dairy program is a voluntary safety net program established by the 2014 Farm Bill that continues through December 31, 2018. The program provides eligible producers with indemnity payments when the difference between an all milk price and average feed cost (the margin), falls below coverage levels producers select on an annual basis.

Eligibility & Coverage Levels

To be eligible for MPP-Dairy, operations must produce and commercially market milk in the U.S., provide proof of milk production when registering, and NOT be enrolled in the Livestock Gross Margin for Dairy program (LGM-Dairy) along with meeting conservation compliance provisions required to participate in the MPP-Dairy program through FSA.

USDA has a web tool to help producers determine the level of coverage under the Margin Protection Program that will provide them with the strongest safety net under a variety of conditions. The online resource, allows dairy farmers to quickly and easily combine unique operation data and other key variables to calculate their coverage needs based on price projections. Producers can also review historical data or estimate future coverage needs, based on data projections. The secure site can be accessed via computer, Smartphone or tablet 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Once enrolled, dairy operations are required to participate through 2018 by making coverage elections each year. Producers can mail the appropriate form to the producer’s administrative county FSA office, along with applicable fees without necessitating a trip to the local FSA office. If electing higher coverage for 2017, dairy producers can either pay the premium in full at the time of enrollment or pay 100 percent of the premium by Sept. 1, 2017. Premium fees may be paid directly to FSA or producers can work with their milk handlers to remit premiums on their behalf. Eligible dairy operations must register for MPP-Dairy coverage at the FSA office where their records are stored. Producers will need to supply the following information when signing up for the program.

  • A production history establishment, which is completed on form CCC-781.
  • Election of the annual coverage level and completion of the contract on form CCC-782.
  • Payment of the $100 administrative fee, annually.
  • Payment of the premium, if there is a premium owed by the due date. This will be dependent upon the premium level selected.

Intergenerational Transfers

Also beginning July 1, 2016, FSA will begin accepting applications for intergenerational transfers, allowing program participants who added an adult child, grandchild or spouse to the operation during calendar year 2014 or 2015, or between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2016, to increase production history by the new cows bought into the operation by the new family members. For intergenerational transfers occurring on or after July 1, 2016, notification to FSA must be made within 60 days of purchasing the additional cows.

More Information

For more information regarding the Milk Margin Protection Program visit the USDA Dairy MPP website or view the USDA Program Fact Sheet for the MPP-Dairy or stop by a local FSA office to learn more.

Animal Activists

Be prepared: Activists don’t play fair at events and expos

By Hannah Thompson July 11, 2016 | 9:58 am EDT

Summer is my favorite season, and it isn’t just because of the warm weather and weekend trips to the beach. For me, summer has always been county fair season. Some of my best memories are from early mornings on the washrack, late nights playing cards in the barn and of course showing off a year’s worth of hard work in the show ring.

While many of us in agriculture see fairs and expositions as an opportunity to connect with consumers and share what we do, unfortunately animal rights extremist organizations are approaching these events with an entirely different agenda – to disrupt and protest, ultimately bringing attention to their cause. A group named Direct Action Everywhere has made headlines this year for disrupting everything from Bernie Sanders rallies to the Pennsylvania Farm Show with the goal of promoting their desire for animals to be recognized with full “personhood.”

It is an unfortunate reality that in addition to packing a showbox, ordering the ribbons and trophies and lining up the judges, anyone involved in a fair or exposition this summer needs to also prepare for activist protests and disruptions. Whether you are an exhibitor or on the fair committee, preparation and planning is key to ensuring the event is a positive and educational experience for everyone.

A few tips:

  • Contact local law enforcement and let them know about your potential concerns. Ask for their advice about handling different scenarios and when you should get them involved. This could also be a great opportunity to build a relationship by inviting them to stop by the show and learn more about your industry.
  • Monitor online conversation to see if you may be a target. Protests are frequently organized on websites or social media. Search the web and social media for the name of your event a few times a week leading up to the event. Also, be aware of high-profile visitors or activities going on that may draw media (and therefore activist) attention.
  • Establish a protocol to follow in the event of protests or disruptions. Designate clear roles and responsibilities – including media spokespeople – and have back-ups in place in case the primary individuals are unavailable.
  • Draft an animal welfare policy for your farm or club. Have every exhibitor affiliated with you sign the policy and keep it readily available during the event. Having your commitment to animal care clearly written out will help demonstrate how seriously you take it if it’s questioned by a visitor.

While you prepare for the worst, you should also hope and plan for the best – meaningful engagement with curious fairgoers. Before you load the trailer and pull out of your driveway, take some time to brush up on your industry’s talking points and key messages. The Alliance also has many outreach and security resources, so don’t hesitate to visit or call us at 703-562-5160 if you have questions.

Good luck this fair season! If you need me, I’ll be at the lemon shake-up stand.

Dehorning Calves

Optimize the welfare of calves during dehorning

Follow several key guidelines to minimize stress and discomfort for calves during the dehorning process.
Follow several key guidelines to minimize stress and discomfort for calves during the dehorning process.

Photo by Wyatt Bechtel

Dairy calves are dehorned for the safety of the animals and the people who will handle them in the future. Guidelines from the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) cover key considerations for the welfare of calves during the dehorning or disbudding process. These guidelines include age at which the procedure is done, proper restraint, use of appropriate methods, and pain control during and after the procedure.

Dehorning and disbudding are best done when the calf is young. When using a hot-iron dehorner, the horn should be removed before the horn base becomes larger than 1-inch in diameter. This is at approximately six weeks of age. During the procedure, restrain the calf using a halter or other head restraint. Providing employee training on safe, low-stress handling techniques is very important.

Applying caustic paste to the calf’s horn buds is another method for dehorning and is most effectively done at 1-3 days of age. Calves must be kept from rubbing paste on other animals. Protecting calves from rain or other moisture for at least 24 hours will prevent the paste from running and causing injury to the calf. A fact sheet from the University of Wisconsin suggests covering the horn buds with duct tape or vet wrap after the paste is applied.

Local anesthesia is highly recommended during hot iron dehorning. A corneal nerve block using lidocaine controls the pain and discomfort of burning. Lidocaine has a 4-day meat withholding time.

To reduce inflammation and post-procedure pain associated with both procedures, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are helpful. Meloxicam is a low-cost, oral tablet that can provide pain relief for up to 48 hours with a single dose after either procedure. Using meloxicam in this manner is an extra label drug use. Consequently, it must be prescribed by your herd veterinarian as part of a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR). The meat withholding time for meloxicam is 21 days after a single dose.

It is important to consult your veterinarian regarding the proper use and dosage of a local anesthetic or other pain relief for dehorning.

Using appropriate dehorning or disbudding procedures and minimizing the associated pain are essential for a well-managed calf program. Developing protocols for calf care and pain management can ensure that everyone caring for calves follows the same procedures on your farm. Several changes being implemented in the National Dairy FARM program in January 2017 address best practices for dehorning and protocols for pain management.