The Organic Dairy Marketing Assistance Program (ODMAP) was established to help organic dairy producers mitigate market volatility, from input and transportation costs to feed supply price changes. ODMAP complements other assistance programs, such as the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) and Supplemental DMC, with mor than $300m in benefits paid for the 2023 program year to date. For this round, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is making $104m available.
Applications run through to July 26, 2023 and those who can apply include certified organic dairy producers, whether cow, goat or sheep farmers. Operators are required to provide their USDA certification of organic status along with the certification of 2022 milk production in hundredweight in addition to a completed application form. To apply, producers should contact FSA at their local USDA service center.
“Organic dairy producers have faced significant and unique increases in their marketing costs, compounded by increases in feed and transportation costs and the limited availability of organic grain and forage commodities,” said FSA administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “Without assistance, many organic dairies, particularly small organic dairies, will cease production, which not only impacts the domestic supply and consumption of organic milk but also the well-being of many rural communities across the country. This program will keep our small organic dairies in operation as they continue to weather a combination of challenges outside of their control.”
The news has been welcomed by organic dairy operators. Adam Warthesen, co-chair of the Organic Trade Association’s Organic Feedstuffs Relief Task Force, and senior director of government and industry affairs for Organic Valley said: “With unprecedented organic feed costs and inflationary pressures over the last couple of years, resources like ODMAP are really going to matter as farmers plan for the rest of this year.”
Britt Lundgren, senior director of sustainability and government affairs at Stonyfield, said: “The costs facing organic dairy today are uncommon and putting serious strain on operations. USDA is right to step in and offer support, and this is a good first step. The alternative is we lose family farmers. We look forward to working with USDA to cover more of the actual costs organic dairies are facing.”
Lia Sieler, executive director of Western Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, said: “We welcome the monetary resources allocated to dairy farmers through ODMAP with much anticipation. Input costs have been at an unprecedented high with no foreseeable changes and farmers are struggling to keep up with these high costs at their current pay price for the specialty products they produce. Farmers are struggling to continue producing a quality, safe and nutritious product with the current costs of doing business. We thank USDA with the help of many members of Congress for stepping in, hearing our voices and working diligently to get money pushed out as quick as possible to help alleviate some of this pain. Our work is not done, but this is a major win for our industry in a time of such uncertainty.”
Chris Adamo, vice-president of public affairs and regenerative agriculture policy with Danone North America, said: “Recent increases to cost of feed and overall inputs have significantly impacted organic dairy farms, and on behalf of Horizon Organic, we are grateful for USDA’s thoughtful work and strong support for the farms that supply our customers’ milk.”