The two competing margin insurance programs being debated as part of the dairy subtitle of the 2013 farm bill both offer pros and cons for dairy farmers, based on the individual farm characteristics, according to a pair of Ohio State University agricultural economists.

In a new report, Cameron Thraen, an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics (AEDE) in Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, and doctoral student John Newton, discuss the two programs to provide clarification and insight into both without taking a side on either.

The report takes an in-depth look at the Dairy Security Act, with its margin insurance paired with a dairy market stabilization program, and the Goodlatte-Scott Amendment, which offers a margin insurance program without the dairy market stabilization program.

The goal is to provide a detailed look at a highly complex topic as a way to offer advice to producers, stakeholders and policy leadership, said Thraen, who also holds an appointment with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC).

OSU Extension and OARDC are the statewide outreach and research arms, respectively, of the college.

The report takes into consideration a number of factors, including a dairy farm's anticipated growth pattern and expected market prices for milk and feed. It then evaluates each program regarding which would be best for different dairy operations, he said.

"The dairy industry is not homogenous at all, so we're not trying to settle the debate on which program is best overall because you're not going to," Thraen said.