Maryland dairy farmers to receive $1.5million in state funds

Gov. Larry Hogan took the opportunity before a big crowd at the annual Taste of Maryland Agriculture event to make a big announcement for Maryland dairy farmers.

Addressing more than 700 agricultural leaders and legislators at the Maryland Agriculture Council’s annual event, Hogan announced his decision to contribute about $1.5 million in state funds to enable Maryland dairy farmers to participate in a new federal funding program, creating up to $17 million in available assistance.

“For months we have been searching for a way to help our dairy farmers who are facing particularly challenging times,” Hogan said. “I want all of you to be the first to know tonight that earlier today I made the decision to put additional state resources that will be combined with federal funds and will mean up to $17 million in emergency funding to assist and support our Maryland dairy farmers.”

Following the announcement, the governor will authorize the state to pay up to $1.5 million to cover the farmers’ share of the premium cost to participate in the Dairy Margin Coverage Program to leverage a significant amount – projected at up to $17 million – of federal funds for Maryland farmers.

The Farm Bill was signed on December 2018 and amended the Margin Protection Program by renaming as Dairy Margin Coverage Program. The program is administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

As dairy farmers in Maryland and across the nation continue to struggle due to low milk prices, forcing many dairies to sell their herds. The number of dairy farms in Maryland has declined nearly every year since the late 1980s when the state boasted more than 1,400 of them. There were only 417 in 2017 and Scott Youse, Maryland Agriculture Council President and a Ridgely, Md., dairy farmer said the figure now stands at 364.

In his remarks prior Hogan’s announcement, Youse urged legislators present to fund the Maryland Dairy Emergency Trust Fund, which was created in 2007 but never given any money to operate. The state’s dairy industry has long requested a $5 million investment in the fund to help struggling dairy farms.

Source: American Farm Publications