Following Report Demonstrating Positive Results, Obenshain and Wilt File Legislation to Continue Program Supporting Dairy Farmers

January 11, 2023

HARRISONBURG- On Monday Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) and Delegate Tony Wilt (R-
Rockingham) filed a pair of bills to continue the Virginia Dairy Margin Coverage Premium Assistance Program. This follows an encouraging report from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and
Consumers Services (VDACS) that offers convincing evidence that the program met both the goals of
offering tangible help to the struggling dairy industry, while also incentivizing farmers to implement
environmental stewardship practices.

“I am very pleased to see that the program has been helpful to farmers and also that it has successfully
promoted voluntary implementation of agricultural best management practices,” Obenshain said. “The
dairy industry has struggled over the past few years, but this approach has proven to be a real win-win for
the industry and we have made a strong case for its continuation.”

“It’s exciting to see that the program is working,” stated Wilt. “Since Rockingham is the top dairy
producing locality in the Commonwealth by a wide margin, ensuring a sustainable industry is vital not
only for our farmers, but our local economy as a whole. It’s equally as exciting that this program likely
encouraged dozens of farmers to voluntarily implement or renew best management practices on their

“The recent VDACS report confirms the program has been a success both in terms of assisting our
farmers and encouraging environmental stewardship practices,” said Eric Paulson, Executive Secretary of
the Virginia Dairyman’s Association. “Given this success, it makes sense to continue it beyond this year
and I’m thankful to Senator Obenshain and Delegate Wilt for their willingness to bring legislation

Without this legislation, the original program was implemented on a trial basis and is otherwise
scheduled to expire in July. Both Delegate Wilt and Senator Obenshain played a significant role in
establishing the original program a few years ago through prior legislative action and their efforts to
secure funding in the state budget.

The federal Dairy Margin Coverage Program is part of the federal Farm Bill and functions much like an
insurance policy to guard against volatile milk prices and high commodity costs. The state premium
assistance program helps small to mid-size dairy farmers in covering their significant costs to sign up for
the federal program. To qualify for the state program, farmers must adopt or be in the process of adopting
a nutrient management plan or resource management plan. Dairy farmers that are interested in
participating should contact VDACS for more information.