USDA Working to Deliver Dairy Aid by Mid-December

November 22, 2009 06:00 PM

By Roger Bernard, ProFarmer


Get ready for a new acronym if you're a dairy producer: DELAP.


That's the Dairy Economic Loss Assistance Payment Program that was authorized by the Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 at appropriations bill to make $290 million in payments to dairy farmers to address economic hardships the industry has confronted.


While details are still being finalized, payments are projected to be made around mid-December, corresponding with the publishing of the final rule in the Federal Register for the program.


So how will USDA determine the payments to be made? With the reg still in the clearance process, it remains to be seen exactly how the payments will be formulated.


But one indication is that the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program will figure into the payment process. Indications are that is to help "expedite delivery" of payments to producers, with production records for those who were in MILC for FY 2009 used to determine quantities eligible for payment.


That will eliminate a signup for those who were in MILC, but USDA will operate one for those who weren't in the program for FY 2009. And there will be a 30-calendar-day application period that will start when DELAP plans are published in the Federal Register.


Use of the MILC program could become an issue. Lawmakers from California and other locations where dairies tend to be larger were concerned about this prospect when the aid was finalized in the spending bill -- enough so that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) put an unusual hold on the spending bill until her concerns were met. So, whether or not USDA's plans will re-ignite, this situation will depend on the final rule due from USDA next month.


Roger Bernard covers farm program and policy issues for Pro Farmer, AgDay, U.S. Farm Report and  Farm Journal magazine. You can contact him at

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