New Jersey’s dairy industry could see some relief after an Assembly Committee cleared legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Parker Space (R-24).
“Stepping up the support of our state’s dairy farmers is critical if we want to save this important industry,” Space said.
The bill would direct the New Jersey Department of Agriculture to pay coverage premiums for dairy farmers participating in a federal safety-net program, and mirrors legislation currently enacted in Maryland.
“Milk producers, many of whom have been farming in New Jersey for several generations, are hurting from increased costs. This bill helps keep dairy farming alive and well in New Jersey,” he said.
The Senate approved a version of the legislation in March 2021. That version of the bill was sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Steve Oroho (R-24).
Reimbursements for Federal Program
Under the bill, dairy farmers would be reimbursed premiums they pay in order to enter the federal dairy margin coverage program.
The voluntary program provides risk protection for dairy farmers contending with low prices for milk and high input costs for feed. The program offers risk protection for dairies with herd sizes up to 250 cows, and partial risk protection for larger dairies.
“This federal program has proven to be a successful safety net, especially for small dairy farms like we have in New Jersey. We want to encourage dairy farmers to enroll in the program and ensure that coverage costs are not an impediment,” Space added.
Earlier Senate Approval
The Senate approved a version of the bill in 2021 unanimously. Some committee amendment capped the reimbursement to the amount of the premium for coverage for the first 5 million lbs. of annual milk production per farm.
Under the current bill, New Jersey has 36 dairy farms eligible for the program.
“This legislation will help preserve the remaining dairy farms, protecting them from unstable milk prices in the marketplace that threaten profitability, and enabling them to remain in business in a stress-filled environment,” said Oroho.