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From The Fields: Tools to Assist with Price Risk Management

By Jeff Wilke, Bank First

The 2022 inflationary pressures on a milk producer’s costs to produce milk have made the need to manage milk price risk/volatility that much more important. Two relatively economical and user-friendly milk price risk management tools available to dairy producers are the USDA’s Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) and Dairy Revenue Protection (DRP) programs.

DMC provides dairy operations with risk management coverage that will pay producers when the difference (the margin) between the national price of milk and the average cost of feed falls below a certain level selected by the program participants. The only cost for $4.00 margin “catastrophic” coverage is a $100 administrative fee. For coverage from the $4.00 margin to $9.50 margin levels (in $.50 increments), there is also a premium payment of only $.0025 to $.15 per hundredweight of milk, respectively, on up to 95% of a producer’s recent average of historical milk production (up to a maximum of five million pounds of milk at those premium costs). Coverage for milk production over five million pounds of milk is available at the $4.50 margin to $9.50 margin levels (in $.50 increments), with premiums from $.0025 to $1.813, respectively. Sign up for the program is through the USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

DRP is designed to insure against unexpected declines in the quarterly revenue from milk sales relative to a guaranteed coverage level (“price protection”). The expected revenue is based on futures prices for milk and dairy commodities, and the amount of covered milk production elected by the dairy producer.

DRP offers two revenue pricing options: The Class Pricing Option, which uses a combination of Class III (milk primarily used for cheese production) and Class IV (milk primarily used for butter and non-fat dry milk production) milk prices as a basis for determining coverage and indemnities. The Component Pricing Option, which uses the component milk prices for butterfat, protein and other solids as a basis for determining coverage and indemnities. Under this option the producer may select the butterfat test percentage and protein test percentage to establish their insured milk price.

Through DRP, 80-95% of expected quarterly milk revenue may be covered (in 5% increments). A premium subsidy of 44-55% is provided through the program, depending on the coverage level selected. DRP insurance is available through authorized crop insurance agents.

For more information on the DMC and DRP programs, visit usda.gov.

Jeff Wilke is vice president-business and ag banker with Bank First in Denmark. Wilke currently serves on the WBA Ag Section Board of Directors.