Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica A. Chittenden

December 22, 2008

Milc Program Reauthorized; Sign Up Begins Today

Initial Sign-Up Ends January 21, 2009; Producers Must Apply at Local FSA Office

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today encouraged dairy producers to sign up for the Milk Income Loss Contract Program (MILC) that began today, December 22. MILC is a federal program, administered by USDA Farm Service Agency that compensates dairy producers when domestic milk prices fall below a specified level. The initial sign-up period will end January 21, 2009.

"We were very pleased to have the MILC program not only reauthorized, but strengthened in the 2008 Farm Bill," the Commissioner said. "This program has provided more than $229 million for our dairy farmers during low prices in the past, and this will be a welcomed program again this year as economists predict a serious drop in milk prices again at a time when input costs remain high. I encourage all dairy producers to consider the economic forecasts and determine when and how this program will best serve your farm’s bottom line."

The 2008 Farm Bill recently reauthorized the MILC Program and made three key changes. Under the 2008 Act, the MILC payment rate and the per-operation poundage limit are modified. In addition, a "feed cost adjuster," is now included, which adjusts the $16.94 per hundredweight (cwt) benchmark price upward depending on the cost of feed rations. MILC payments will now be based on a payment rate percentage that is multiplied by the difference between a now-flexible target ($16.94 per cwt or higher) and the specific month’s Boston Class I price of milk.

Previously, the MILC program had a production limit of 2.4 million pounds. Now, USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) will issue MILC payments on an individual farm basis up to a maximum of 2.985 million pounds (about 145 cows) for each federal fiscal year through August 31, 2012, when the program is slated to expire.

All interested producers, regardless of whether they received MILC payments in the past, must apply for the MILC program at their local USDA Farm Service Agency and must select the month to start receiving payments for eligible production. Eligible dairy producers are those who commercially produce milk in the United States. To receive program approval, producers must enter into a MILC contract with CCC and provide monthly milk marketing data.

New York is the nation’s third largest dairy state, generating $2.4 billion annually, over half of the State’s total agricultural receipts. New York’s 6,200 dairy farmers produce 12.1 billion pounds of milk or 140.6 million gallons annually. The average dairy farm in New York State is family owned and consists of 100 cows, producing an average of 19,303 pounds of milk per cow per year.

Since the inception of the MILC program in 2002, New York State dairy farmers have received $229 million to help stabilize milk prices.

2008 Press Releases