Family Farmers Respond to Dairy Industry Milk Supply Proposal, Urge Changes

Siena Press Room

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Aid must support vulnerable farmers and consumers, not megafarms and corporations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 9, 2020
Contact: Siena Chrisman, siena@nffc.net

National Family Farm Coalition today released a statement in response to this week’s “Milk Crisis Plan for USDA,” authored by the two largest U.S. dairy trade groups to address the dairy industry’s catastrophic losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan from the International Dairy Foods Association and National Milk Producers Federation proposes a form of supply management to bridge the current supply/demand gap.

Representing farmer, rancher, fisher, and rural groups in over 40 states, National Family Farm Coalition responded with this statement:

“We appreciate that International Dairy Foods Association and National Milk Producers Federation have recognized supply concerns are of paramount importance at this time of crisis for dairy farmers. Proposals to stabilize prices for family farmers and address the farm-side oversupply of milk due to loss of institutional markets are desperately needed.

“However, these measures must prioritize those most at risk in the industry and in our communities and address long-standing inequities in dairy pricing. The Milk Crisis Plan for USDA, by contrast, gives the most help to the largest processors and producers. We cannot afford to keep supporting corporations at the expense of farmers who produce our food or consumers trying to feed their families.

“A commonsense supply management program must include:

  • Emergency direct payments to dairy farmers equitably scaled to the size of operation, prioritizing those who are most vulnerable;
  • A floor price based on cost of production (average $20 per hundred pounds of milk);
  • Universal, mandatory participation for all conventional dairy producers;
  • Long-term security through a permanent program that allows market swings to settle;
  • A mechanism to match domestic production and demand, freeing farmers from dependence on export markets.

“The current state of the dairy industry profits large processors and leaves both family farmers and consumers vulnerable. Family-scale dairies have endured prices below costs of production for decades, with especially significant losses since 2015. Nearly 11,000 dairy farms have gone out of business in the last five years, even as milk production has increased. Today, some farmers are forced to dump milk without compensation, while supermarket dairy cases are empty around the country.

“We cannot return to the status quo following this pandemic. Following implementation of emergency measures, we must address the underlying dairy pricing issues and ensure farmers are paid a fair price through the marketplace rather than by taxpayers. An appropriate supply management system will save money for the federal government, stabilize farm prices, and guarantee reliable and affordable dairy options for all consumers.

“We urge USDA, Congress, International Dairy Foods Association and National Milk Producers Federation to support a comprehensive supply management strategy that incorporates these factors and we welcome opportunities to work together toward that goal.”

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Representing 30 farmer, rancher, fisher, and rural groups in over 40 states, National Family Farm Coalition mobilizes family farmers and ranchers to achieve fair prices, vibrant communities, and healthy foods free of corporate domination.

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