New Farm Bill Dairy Producer Educational Tool to be Launched with Funding from USDA – AEDE Dairy Economist to Aid in Development

June 10, 2014

This article was originally published on the website of OSU's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A dairy economist with Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences is among a group of experts nationwide who will help develop online tools and supporting educational materials for dairy producers to support new Farm Bill programs.  

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently said that as part of the implementation of the Agricultural Act of 2014, it will award $6 million in funding to universities and cooperative state extension services to prepare farmers for new Farm Bill programs. 

The National Coalition for Producer Education at the University of Illinois, along with the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute and the National Association of Food Policy at Texas A&M University, were awarded $3 million to develop online tools and educational materials to support new Farm Bill programs.

Cameron Thraen, an associate professor in CFAES’ Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics (AEDE) and a member of the National Program on Dairy Markets and Policy, will work as part of a team to develop online tools and supporting educational materials for dairy producers to support the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP).

MPP is a new national voluntary dairy safety net program. With the passage of the Agricultural Act of 2014, the U.S. federal dairy farm safety net underwent the most comprehensive reform that the program has seen in decades.

Thraen will work with colleagues from the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Minnesota, Michigan State University, Cornell University, and The Pennsylvania State University, on the project. In addition to online tools, the team will develop a number of training sessions and other educational materials to further assist dairy producers in understanding the MPP program, organizers said.

“In designing and developing these materials we fully expect to work with and be a resource for the large network of extension educators and industry partners who are routinely in the business of working with dairy farmers and helping them gather the information to think about the management decisions they face every day,” officials with the Dairy Markets and Policy team said in a statement.

Though the USDA plans to launch the MPP program by Sept. 1, the timeline for the launch of the educational tool is still in the planning stages and will be announced in the coming weeks, organizers said.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the new online tools will empower farmers and ranchers to select the plan that best fits their unique needs.

“Helping farmers and ranchers understand new Farm Bill programs and what the programs mean for their families is one of USDA's top priorities,” Vilsack said in a statement. “With the resources we're providing, university experts will help ensure farmers and ranchers are highly educated as they make critical decisions about new programs that impact their livelihoods.”

The MPP online tool development is based on research focused on the integration of risk management and federal dairy policy begun by Thraen and former AEDE doctoral student John Newton, now a faculty member at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Thraen also holds appointments with Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). OSU Extension and OARDC are the statewide outreach and research arms, respectively, of the college.

Thraen studies agricultural policy and risk analysis for the dairy industry, as well as dairy futures and options contract trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. He is co-director of the National Program for Integrated Dairy Risk Management Education and Research, a national program to develop educational materials and software for the dairy industry.

More information about the Dairy Markets and Policy program and the progress on the development of the MPP resources can be found at dairymarkets.org.

June 10, 2014