"Our independent economic analysis indicates that offering dairy farmers a choice between an expanded Milk Income Loss Contract program and a limited Income Over Feed Cost margin insurance program extends safety net support to the wide array of dairy farms regardless of size and at a cost lower than either of the alternatives put forth by the House or Senate," said Thraen.

"This program would increase eligibility of MILC to 4 million pounds per year and allow farms to choose annually between MILC participation or a stand-alone margin insurance program as their elected safety net. Specifically, our proposal is for a combined program we term MILC-Insurance."

Debate on the farm bill has been ongoing for more than two years, with the latest gridlock for lawmakers being the dairy policy, as key legislators have conflicting views on the topic.

The farm bill conference committee has been working to develop a dairy title compromise and, in doing so, they have shown interest in the safety net alternative offered by Thraen and Newton, according to The Hill, a Washington, D.C.-based newspaper, and the Hagstrom Report, an industry-based news service also in Washington.

"Medium- and small-scale producers, which comprise 75 to 80 percent of U.S. producers, like MILC as their safety net," said Thraen. "Larger scale producers, for whom the current MILC program provides only marginal support, would more reasonably take the option of the margin insurance as their safety net."

To read Thraen's policy brief on the dairy safety net alternative, visit: “The Land of MILC and Honey," "The Dairy Safety Net Debate of 2013 Part I: Questions and Answers" and "The Dairy Safety Net Debate of 2013 Part II: Questions and Answers."