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USDA Steps Up to the Dairy Challenge

27 March 2009

US - National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson today commended the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) following an announcement by Secretary Tom Vilsack of steps the department will take to address the current crisis in the dairy industry.

Johnson said the move is a win-win, aiding struggling dairy producers and providing assistance to the growing number of Americans who need help putting food on their tables.

“Dairy producers are facing many challenges – shrinking demand, collapsing market prices, soaring input costs and reduced credit availability,” Johnson said. “While there is no easy answer or simple fix to the extraordinary challenges facing America’s dairy producers, today’s announcement is the right step in the right direction. This ensures that during these difficult economic times no one goes hungry and all Americans have access to affordable food.”

Since last fall, NFU has consistently called for the federal government to respond to the dairy industry’s historic collapse, teaming with Feeding America to urge both the previous and current administrations to act. Delegates to NFU’s recent convention approved a special resolution calling on USDA to purchase domestic dairy products for domestic and international nutrition programs.

USDA is making 200 million pounds of nonfat dry milk (NFDM) available for use in domestic feeding programs and more than 2 million pounds of NFDM available for international relief and other purposes. Vilsack said the department expects to purchase 10 million pounds of butter and 415 million pounds of NFDM in 2009. And, as authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill, USDA will begin disbursement of Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) payments in the next few weeks.

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