U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy and agriculture officials say improvements to a voluntary insurance program will provide relief to dairy farmers who continue to struggle with low milk prices.
Leahy, a Democrat and vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, pushed for the changes to be included in the federal budget deal signed by the president Friday.
The margin protection program provides financial assistance to enrolled farmers when the gap between the milk price and the national average feed costs falls below the coverage levels picked by individual farmers.
The changes would reduce the premium costs, by 70 percent or more for some farmers, and make calculations and potential payments monthly, rather than bimonthly. They also direct the U.S. Agriculture secretary to reopen the sign-up period for calendar year 2018.