The application deadline for the dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) will be extended until Dec. 19, 2014. The program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, protects participating dairy producers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below levels of protection selected by the applicant. “The 2014 Farm Bill created these safety net programs to provide safeguards against the uncertainty of weather and markets, but this safety net is not automatic. Producers must visit their local Farm Service Agency office to enroll before Dec. 19,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in announcing the extension. “For just $100, a farmer can cover 90 percent of production at $4 margin swings, and with affordable incremental premiums, dairy farmers can cover up to $8 margin swings. Those who apply this year will receive a slight increase in production protection that will not be available in the future. Farmers who do not sign up for the Margin Protection Program for 2015 will forfeit the 1 percent base production increase. For a 400-cow operation, this would equate to an additional 80,000 pounds of milk that are eligible for coverage. It’s a small step to take to ensure your business is covered.” Vilsack encourages producers to use the online Web resource at fsa.usda.gov/mpptool to calculate the best levels of coverage for their dairy operation. Farmers also have a chance to share comments and help shape the Margin Protection Program for the future. Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the extension of the opportunity for public comments on both the Margin Protection Program and the Dairy Product Donation Program until Dec. 15, 2014. Comments can be submitted to USDA via the regulations.gov website at http://go.usa.gov/GJSA or send them by mail to: Danielle Cooke, Special Programs Manager, Price Support Division, FSA, USDA, STOP 0512, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C., 20250-0512. To learn more about the Margin Protection Program for dairy, contact your local USDA Farm Service Agency county office at offices.usda.gov or visit us on the Web at fsa.usda.gov.