Comments on USDA Milk Purchasing Program

August 17, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

On Tuesday, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a new program to purchase fluid milk for distribution to The Emergency Food Assistance Program under Section 32 of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1935. The agency will buy $50 million worth of fluid milk for distribution to food banks and other domestic food programs.

In response, NFFC Board Secretary and Wisconsin dairy farmer Bruce Drinkman, issued the following statement:

On April 23, 2018, National Family Farm Coalition sent a letter to USDA and Congressional agriculture leaders that included a Section 32 milk purchasing initiative among a list of suggested actions to address the urgent dairy crisis. NFFC applauds the agency’s decision to establish this purchasing program. It will provide a much-needed market for some of the surplus milk contributing to low farmer prices while putting wholesome dairy products into the hands and stomachs of people in need. However, NFFC’s proposal of the program was intended as a temporary measure, and we hope that USDA and Congress will take the additional steps outlined in our letter, including:

  • Setting an immediate floor price of $20/cwt for milk used to manufacture dairy products;
  • Placing an immediate moratorium on Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funding and direct and guaranteed loans for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs);
  • Holding hearings on the milk pricing formula and the dairy crisis;
  • Implementing a supply management program as outlined in the proposed Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act of 2011 to stabilize milk production.

Dairy farmers’ paychecks are half of what they were in 2016, and hundreds of dairy farms have gone out of business already in 2018 – 382 in Wisconsin alone – and some farmers have even taken their own lives. Without some real relief this year, many more farmers will be forced to sell their cows, farms and homes.

The National Family Farm Coalition urges USDA and Congress to take the necessary additional steps to address this crisis before it is too late.

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Contact:  Bruce Drinkman, NFFC Board Secretary, 715-977-1314