Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday proposed $1.5 million in funds to help struggling dairy farmers participate in a federal program that aims to protect dairies from plummeting milk prices paired with the rising cost of feeding cows.
Hogan’s proposed $1.5 million will have to be approved by the Maryland General Assembly as part of the capital budget.
“For months we have been searching for a way to help our dairy farmers who are facing particularly challenging times,” Hogan said Feb. 7 while addressing the annual Taste of Maryland Agriculture dinner.
The proposed funding would help Maryland dairies maintain their margins — their income after paying for cow feed. If approved the state funds would cover the premiums dairy farmers would incur by registering for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dairy Margin Coverage program at the highest level: $9.50 margin.
“It’s ensuring your income over your feed, which is essentially the profitability because feed is our No. 1 expense,” said David Pyle, who with his wife Katie Dotterer-Pyle, milks 375 cows — mostly Jerseys — at Cow Comfort Inn Dairy in Union Bridge.
The Long Term Advisory Council's agriculture committee observed trends of the past to project the next 20 to 30 years of Carroll County's agriculture industry. Chaired by Carroll County Farm Bureau President Dave Brauning, the body said education, technology and infrastructure would be key.
If Hogan’s proposal goes through and the state pays the farmer’s dairy margin program premiums, “You’ve just put yourself at a profitable level for the year,” Pyle said. “You won’t fall below that … you’ll continue to be able to pay your bills, your employees, pay your taxes, manage your business and move on.”
Paired with other federal government initiatives geared toward protecting dairy farms, Hogan’s proposal to pay Dairy Margin Coverage program premiums will give dairy farmers like Pyle a sense of security in knowing their milk prices — cost per 100 pounds — will be stable.