WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa joined Sens. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Roy Blunt of Missouri and a group of bipartisan colleagues in writing a bipartisan letter urging Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to prioritize the implementation of the dairy provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill.

As dairy farmers across the country continue to struggle from market instability, the 2018 Farm Bill dramatically expands support for dairy producers, providing flexible, affordable coverage options through the Dairy Margin Coverage program. Early analysis has shown that the improvements would provide much-needed financial support to dairy farmers – providing significant benefits for all operations and up to five times as much support for the smallest farms.

“The changes to the Dairy Margin Coverage program make it a much more flexible policy that will likely benefit many of the farmers who chose not to participate in the Margin Protection Program,” the senators wrote. “The USDA should strongly encourage these farmers to consider the Dairy Margin Coverage program.”

“In the interim, we request that the USDA invest in outreach, training, coordination with partner organizations, and staffing to ensure that every eligible farmer receives personalized information about the new and improved options.”

The 2018 Farm Bill also made several other important changes to address the needs of dairy producers, including: a study on the feed components of the margin calculation, a provision to counteract the disincentive for milk donation, continuation of forward contracting, an update to the Class I pricing formula, and a partial refund or credits from premiums paid under the former Margin Protection Program.

The letter, led by Sens. Stabenow and Blunt, was also signed by Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Dianne Feinstein of California, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Christopher Murphy of Connecticut, James E. Risch of Idaho, Patty Murray of Washington, M. Michael Rounds of South Dakota, Robert P. Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania, Susan M. Collins of Maine, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, John Thune of South Dakota, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Tina Smith of Minnesota, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Angus S. King, Jr. of Maine, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Gary C. Peters of Michigan, Charles E. Schumer of New York, Margaret Hassan of New Hampshire, Jeffrey A. Merkley of Oregon, Thomas R. Carper of Delaware, Christopher A. Coons of Delaware, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York, Michael F. Bennet of Colorado and Maria Cantwell of Washington.