Congressional Dairy Farmers Caucus Co-Chairs, Representatives Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), Suzan Delbene (D-Wash.) and Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), on Tuesday led a letter to Secretary Purdue urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support dairy farmers facing an economic crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Dairy farmers need support immediately,” wrote the Representatives. “We urge you [Secretary Purdue] to use your authority to provide support directly to producers. The CARES Act provides the USDA with $9.5 billion to assist producers and specifically cites dairy in the statutory language. We ask that you take immediate action to support this critical industry.”
Specifically, the letter urges USDA to use tools available to it to help dairy producers, such as:
- Paying producers to reduce production.
- Compensating producers for milk that must be dumped.
- Providing capital for processors to expand their capacity and increase their inventory.
- Purchasing dairy products for food banks.
- Reopening the Dairy Margin Coverage Program and providing retroactive coverage.
- Working to increase international food aid.
The full letter is available here. It was also signed by Representatives Annie Kuster (D-N.H.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.), Chrissy Houlahan (D-Md.), Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.), Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.).
The Congressional Dairy Farmers Caucus was launched in 2009 by Welch, Courtney and more than 50 other members of Congress to ensure that critical issues confronting the American dairy farmer are understood in Congress.