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USDA offers financial assistance to organic dairy farmers

Organic Dairy Marketing Assistance Program aims to mitigate high input costs

Dairy Cattle Milking
AT Studio | Bigstock.com

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering assistance for dairy producers with the new Organic Dairy Marketing Assistance Program (ODMAP). ODMAP is established to help mitigate market volatility, higher input and transportation costs, and unstable feed supply and prices that have created unique hardships in the organic dairy industry. Specifically, under the ODMAP, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is making $104 million available to organic dairy operations to assist with projected marketing costs in 2023, calculated using their marketing costs in 2022.

“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.”

FSA began accepting applications for ODMAP on May 24. Eligible producers include certified organic dairy operations that produce milk from cows, goats and sheep.

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.”

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.”

How ODMAP works

FSA is providing financial assistance for a producer’s projected marketing costs in 2023 based on their 2022 costs. ODMAP provides a one-time cost-share payment based on marketing costs on pounds of organic milk marketed in the 2022 calendar year.

ODMAP provides financial assistance that will immediately support certified organic dairy operations during 2023 keeping organic dairy operations sustainable until markets return to more normal conditions. 

How to apply

FSA is accepting applications from May 24 to July 26. To apply, producers should contact FSA at their local USDA Service Center. To complete the ODMAP application, producers must certify to pounds of 2022 milk production, show documentation of their organic certification, and submit a completed application form.

Organic dairy operations are required to provide their USDA certification of organic status confirming operation as an organic dairy in 2023 and 2022 along with the certification of 2022 milk production in hundredweight. 

ODMAP complements other assistance available to dairy producers, including Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) and Supplemental DMC, with more than US$300 million in benefits paid for the 2023 program year to date.

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