Legislation to curb the rising rate of farmer suicides awaits the president’s signature as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. However, the bill’s future is still uncertain as President Donald Trump over the weekend threatened to veto the bill, despite the appearance of veto-proof support from lawmakers.
The Seeding Rural Resilience Act was included in the defense bill. The legislation creates three initiatives aimed at curbing the growing rate of suicides in rural America. The bill Implements a Farmer-Facing Employee Training Program to the Department of Agriculture to provide employees with voluntary stress management training.
The bill also forms a partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services and USDA to create a $3 million campaign to increase public awareness of farm and ranch stress. Finally, the bill directs the Secretary of Agriculture to work with state, local and other stakeholders to collaborate and determine best practices for responding to farm and ranch mental stress.
The signup deadline for the Dairy Margin Coverage Program is coming up on December 11th, and the American Farm Bureau says the number of dairy operations signed up is lower than expected.
So far, 7,846 operations have enrolled in the program, covering about 64 billion pounds of milk. Those numbers account for just under one-third of the total number of U.S. operations and the total volume of milk. Approximately 68 percent of the country’s licensed operations with established production histories have not signed up for the program.
Next year’s 7,846 operations enrolled is more than 23,000 fewer operations than signed up in 2019, when 13,468 dairy farms enrolled in the program. The drop in 2020’s dairy enrollments was due in part to somewhat positive expectations for the dairy industry going into 2020. The low level of signups just days before the deadline is surprising, given the benefits of enrolling for 2021. A rally in commodity prices may be helpful to many farmers, but it does make feed costs higher for dairy producers.
The rising price of feed will squeeze the margins of dairy farmers, and that should make programs like the DMC more attractive to producers. Coverage is available from as low as $4 per hundredweight to as much as $9.50 per hundredweight.