For the past six weeks, IDFA has worked day and night to ensure the federal government hears and understands the unique challenges facing our dairy industry because of COVID-19. As the impact deepens across our economy, it has become clear that the federal government must go above and beyond traditional programs and solutions to bring balance and certainty to the dairy industry in the months ahead. Through the CARES Act, Congress has deployed substantial financial resources to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to begin to address dairy’s unique plight. Our job, as key representatives of this industry, is to ensure USDA gets it right—that the assistance is robust, broad and strategic enough that it lifts all boats in a way that prevents long-term market impacts and preserves the supply chain so that the industry is able to hit the ground running once the COVID-19 crisis passes.
Therefore, with an urgency and a true appreciation for collaboration, IDFA has worked closely with the National Milk Producers Federation to align on a plan of action for the U.S. dairy industry. The overview, called the Milk Crisis Plan for USDA, which we are presenting together to Congressional Ag Committee Leaders, Secretary Perdue, and leadership at USDA and the White House, outlines how this crisis is affecting U.S. dairy from farm to fork. Our main problem is clear: We estimate that supply exceeds demand by at least 10% – a gap that could widen as supply increases to its seasonal peak and as “shelter in place” conditions endure.
The Milk Crisis Plan for USDA presents our objectives to support U.S. dairy through this crisis, beginning with an urgent plea: Use as many tools as possible – as quickly as possible – to bridge the supply/demand gap without any longer term market repercussions.
Following the objectives is a unified set of policy and program recommendations to USDA and the Administration. Over the past two weeks, IDFA has listened and sought the counsel of IDFA’s diverse membership representing all segments of the dairy industry as we worked to build this set of recommendations with NMPF. We have met with each of the five Industry Segment Boards as well as several meetings of our Executive Council to assess and discuss the impact of COVID-19 on our entire membership and to determine potential policy solutions with the USDA, Congress and the Administration.
The plan is attentive to the needs and challenges faced by dairy producers, dairy processors, and consumers of dairy. Ultimately, our goal is twofold:
1. Ensure USDA and the Administration use every strategic tool in its arsenal to bring balance to the dairy industry as quickly as possible.
2. Harness the productive capacity of U.S. dairy to address the growing and widening food insecurity facing many Americans and others around the world.
With the full support of your IDFA Officers, we have aligned on this action plan for our industry. As many of you have said, at a time like this we cannot let perfect be the enemy of good. Therefore, a short while ago, IDFA and NMPF presented this plan to USDA. I will keep you updated as this progresses with a goal of getting the requested support for our industry as soon as possible.
Thank you for all your support and input during this unprecedented time!