Two risk reduction programs provided training and relief for dairies.
First, the Dairy Options Pilot Program (DOPP) conducted in Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, King, and Yakima counties provided training in using futures and options to stabilize farm financial positions. In collaboration with the USDA Risk Management Agency and Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), we conducted eight workshops to teach how options could be used to protect from devastatingly low prices. Like an insurance policy, the DOPP would pay 80% of the premium for the Put Option and $30 of the brokers fee (usually $50$55). Those few who used the strategy during the summer of 2000 to lock in prices for fall 2000 were able to sleep at night while the remainder and their bankers wrestled with the lowest prices in over 20 years. Participation this year shows a great deal of promise with requests from dairies outside the participating counties to be included in the next round.
The second dairy program, the Mercury Manometer Replacement Program, in collaboration with the Washington Department of Ecology and WSDA, replaced 83 mercury-filled vacuum meters. Mercury can cause serious health and ecological problems when released into the environment. The program removed over 100 pounds of liquid mercury and contaminated debris from dairies, delivered all materials to a hazardous waste site, and paid the usual $300 cost to replace the meter with a new mercury-free digital gauge. Having secured additional grant funds, we are now in our second phase to replace functioning mercury manometers for dairies on the waiting list.