USDA announces assistance for organic dairy producers with the new Organic Dairy Marketing Assistance Program (ODMAP) to help mitigate market volatility and higher input costs.

The new Organic Dairy Marketing Assistance Program (ODMAP), announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), will provide assistance to dairy farmers. The organic dairy industry has seen particular problems due to market volatility, increased input and transportation expenses, and fluctuating feed supplies and prices, which are all addressed by ODMAP. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) of the USDA is specifically providing $104 million to organic dairy companies under the ODMAP to help with projected marketing costs in 2023, which were 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 will begin accepting applications for ODMAP on May 24, 2023. Dairy farms that are certified organic and that make milk from cows, goats, and sheep are eligible producers.

Adam Warthesen, the 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.”

Britt Lundgren, Senior Director of Sustainability and Government Affairs at Stonyfield, said: “The costs facing organic dairy today are uncommon and putting serious strain on operations. USDA is right to step in and offer support, and this is a good first step. The alternative is we lose family farmers. We look forward to working with USDA to cover more of the actual costs organic dairies are facing.”

Lia Sieler, Executive Director of Western Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, said: “We welcome the monetary resources allocated to dairy farmers through ODMAP with much anticipation. Input costs have been at an unprecedented high with no foreseeable changes, and farmers are struggling to keep up with these high costs at their current pay price for the specialty products they produce.”

“Farmers are struggling to continue producing quality, safe and nutritious products with the current costs of doing business. We thank USDA, with the help of many members of Congress, for stepping in, hearing our voices, and working diligently to get money pushed out as quickly as possible to help alleviate some of this pain. Our work is not done, but this is a major win for our industry during such uncertainty.”   

Chris Adamo, Vice President of Public Affairs and Regenerative Agriculture Policy with Danone North America, said: “Recent increases to the 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 offers financial support for a producer’s anticipated 2023 marketing expenses based on their 2022 expenses. ODMAP provides a one-time cost-share payment based on the marketing expenditures for the pounds of organic milk sold in the year 2022.

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 for ODMAP?

FSA is accepting applications from May 24 to July 26, 2023. To apply, producers should contact FSA at their local USDA Service Center. To complete the ODMAP application, producers must certify pounds of 2022 milk production, show documentation of their organic certification, and submit a completed application form.

Organic dairy operations must 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 $300 million in benefits paid for the 2023 program year to date. Learn more on the FSA Dairy Programs webpage.

Source: USDA Press Release | *Young dairy farmer with bucket: image by jcomp on Freepik.

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