COLUMBIA, Mo.– Dairy producers must decide how much safety net they need and then sign up for the 2014 farm bill program before Nov. 28.

Producers can learn the options in a series of meetings and a webinar, says Joe Horner, University of Missouri Extension dairy economist.

“There has been lots of information in dairy magazines and online,” Horner says. “Some will want person-to-person contact.”

Five meetings will be in southern Missouri. A webinar for the more scattered northern Missouri producers will be Sept. 29.

The meetings start Sept. 29 in Columbia and end Oct. 29 in Hartville.

Instructors will be Horner, MU economist Scott Brown and a local agent from the USDA Farm Service Agency.

The farm bill’s new Margin Protection Program replaces MILC (Milk Income Loss Contact).

Under the former program there was just one decision, to sign up or not. In MPP, producers must decide on margin level and how much insurance they want to buy.

“It sounds complicated, but need not be in most cases,” Horner says. “Main thing is to go to the local FSA office and sign up.”

The meeting times and locations are:

  • Sept. 29, 2-2:30 p.m., FCS Financial, 2800 Woodard Drive, Columbia.
  • Oct. 14, 10 a.m.-noon, MU Extension Center, Jackson, Mo.
  • Oct. 15, 1-3 p.m., Park Casino, 101 S. Lincoln, Monett, Mo.
  • Oct. 16, 10 a.m.-noon, Park Casino, 101 S. Lincoln, Monett.
  • Oct. 28, 10 a.m.-noon, Springfield (Mo.) Livestock Marketing Center, 6821 W. Independence Drive, Springfield.
  • Oct. 29, 10 a.m.-noon, Laclede Electric Cooperative meeting room, 5900 Highway 5, Hartville, Mo.

The webinar will be during the lunch hour on Sept. 29. Go to Horner’s website for sign-up details at

Every producer should sign up, unless they are just opposed to government programs, Horner says. With current milk prices, it may not seem like time to buy insurance.

“Just remember the low milk prices in 2009 and 2012,” he says. “Margin insurance would have been very helpful then.”

The first step at the FSA office will be to establish a milk production basis for the last three years. That data is in year-end summaries from the milk marketing co-op.

The final step is deciding how much risk the farm can withstand.

“Don’t avoid signing up before the deadline,” Horner says. “Go in well ahead of Thanksgiving.”

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