farm field corn

USDA will spend up to $100 million to help organic dairies.

The Organic Dairy Marketing Assistance Program will cover up to 75% of organic dairies' projected marketing costs for the rest of the year, based on national cost estimates, the agency said Monday. To focus on the needs of small farms, payments will be capped at the first 5 million pounds of anticipated production. That is, by design, the same production limit used for the best rate in Dairy Margin Coverage.

Still in development, the new Farm Service Agency program will use Commodity Credit Corp. money left over from earlier pandemic assistance programs.

The Organic Trade Association and allied groups requested aid for organic livestock farmers in November, saying their finances were being strained by high feed costs caused in part by widespread drought and trade disruptions. The group said organic feed prices, already higher than conventional versions, doubled in 2022.

"Many small organic dairy operations are now struggling to stay in business, and FSA plans to provide payments to cover a portion of their estimated marketing costs for 2023," USDA said.

The supply of feed available to organic farmers has also tightened in recent years because of USDA's crackdown on imports fraudulently labeled as organic.