US secretary of agriculture Tom Vilsack had been facing calls to increase payments made through the Organic Dairy Marketing Assistance Program (ODMAP) to 100% of 2022 marketing costs, after the first payment provided 75% of costs for up to five million pounds of milk.
In an open letter to the secretary, representatives from the Organic Trade Association, Organic Farmers Association, National Organic Coalition, Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, and Western Organic Dairy Producers Alliance argued that USDA should revise the calculations used to estimate the average marketing costs in order to reflect pricing accurately, and asked for the milk cap to be raised as it ‘leaves many small dairies without adequate relief’. The trade bodies also argued in favor of re-opening the application period (which ran May 24 to August 11, 2023) and for USDA to increase the payout to all previous applicants based on the supposed difference between the new maximum volume of milk covered and the new marketing cost calculation.
While the USDA has not acted on the rest of the industry proposals, the additional $5m does represent the remaining 25% of requested assistance, meaning that 100% of 2022 marketing costs will be covered under the existing model.
The second payment is automatic and participating producers do not need to take any additional action in order to receive it.
Eligible producers for ODMAP included certified organic dairy operations that produce milk from cows, goats and sheep.
“This program is critical to keeping small, organic dairies sustainable as they continue to weather a combination of challenges outside of their control,” said USDA’s Farm Service Agency administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “In total, the Farm Service Agency is providing $20m to give organic dairy producers additional economic support to stay in operation until markets return to more favorable conditions.”