The National Milk Producers Federation thanked President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for supporting dairy in USDA’s $16 billion agriculture payments plan, details of which were released on Monday, May 18. Still, current aid levels will be insufficient to meet the needs of milk producers and other agricultural sectors facing massive disruption from the coronavirus crisis. NMPF will continue to work with administration officials and members of Congress to achieve adequate aid for all dairy producers. Those projected losses have been estimated to be $8.2 billion, based on USDA data. That places dairy among the hardest hit U.S. agricultural commodities.
“We welcome this federal dairy assistance, which is critically needed as the nation’s dairy farmers face an unprecedented market collapse,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF, the largest U.S. dairy-farmer organization. “USDA’s plan will provide relief to many farmers, and we appreciate the department’s adjustments to payment limits, an issue which we raised prior to the department finalizing this package.
“Even so, we believe more flexibility in payment limits and some changes to payment calculations will be needed in future rounds of funding to meet the unprecedented challenges faced by producers of all sizes, in dairy and throughout agriculture. We look forward to working with federal officials and lawmakers on additional assistance.”
NMPF is still reviewing details of the latest USDA plan
The direct assistance to farmers follows USDA’s acceptance of an initial round of contracts last week to buy $317 million in dairy products as part of its Farmers to Families Food Box Program, which is bolstering both milk prices and dairy supply chains. Mulhern applauded USDA’s planned large purchase of milk and dairy products for distribution through food banks and other non-profit organizations. “All that USDA can do to buy and quickly distribute dairy products to those in need will immediately help lift depressed markets,” he said.
In addition to the White House and USDA, NMPF thanked the many members of Congress who have urged USDA to provide robust assistance to dairy and will be essential to achieving additional assistance. “A strong bipartisan, bicameral, nationwide push from members of Congress will be necessary to enact the significant dairy aid package needed for farmers to survive,” Mulhern said. “We thank our champions in Congress for their tireless advocacy and hope more will join as we work together to preserve dairy farms and support the U.S. economy.”
The HEROES Act, passed by the House of Representatives last week, includes important provisions to provide relief to dairy producers, and the Senate is slated to begin work on a measure in the coming weeks.
NMPF is activating its grassroots advocacy to assist in its efforts to meet dairy’s needs. More information on how to help can be found at www.nmpf.org. Additional resources to help the dairy community meet the coronavirus challenge can be found at www.nmpf.org/coronavirus.