Low farm milk prices have resulted in sharply reduced incomes for U.S. dairy farmers, which is placing our nation’s dairy industry in a vulnerable position; This summer, in a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Klobuchar, Franken, Peterson, Walz, and Nolan urged the department to use its authority to take action to protect the nation’s dairy farmers from further crisis and aid the expansion and maintenance of domestic farmers
To build on support given in August, today the USDA offered to purchase $20 million of cheese for food banks and pantries across the nation to assist families in need through USDA nutrition assistance programs
WASHINGTON, DC – Following efforts from U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, along with Representatives Collin Peterson, Tim Walz and Rick Nolan, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced new plans to help dairy producers and families in need in 2017. Low milk prices have resulted in sharply reduced incomes for U.S. dairy farmers, which is placing our nation’s dairy industry in a vulnerable position. In July, Klobuchar, Franken, Peterson, Walz, and Nolan urged the department to use its authority to take action to protect the nation’s dairy farmers from further crisis and aid the expansion and maintenance of domestic farmers. To build on support given by the USDA in August, today the USDA announced plans to purchase $20 million of cheese for food banks and pantries across the nation to assist families in need through USDA nutrition assistance programs.
“Our prosperity depends on supporting and strengthening farms and rural communities throughout Minnesota and across the country,” Klobuchar said. “After our continued efforts, Minnesota dairy farmers and families will receive the help they need during this time of low prices.”
“With one in five Minnesota jobs tied to agriculture, families and communities all across our state rely on a strong farm economy,” Franken said. “But for the past several years, dairy producers in Minnesota and across the country have been hit hard by the perfect storm of low prices, increased U.S. milk production, and changing markets abroad. We called for federal support to help Minnesota’s dairy producers make it through these tough times, and I’m glad to see that USDA has responded with this important step.”
“This is a good step that will hopefully provide some short-term relief to dairy farmers facing difficult market conditions,” Peterson said. “To ensure stability in the dairy industry we need to take a close look and improve on the dairy safety net. I will continue to work closely with my colleagues and dairy farmers to provide a long-term solution.”
“Our producers feed the world and we have a responsibility to help them during challenging times,” Walz said. “I am pleased USDA is making this investment, not only in our producers, but also in our communities. As we move forward, our work to strengthen the safety net is vital to our economy”
“This is wonderful news for our dairy farmers and families in need. I’m pleased that the USDA has heeded our call and taken this initial step to support our dairy industry,” Nolan said. “Agriculture is a critical job-creating industry in Minnesota. It is imperative to the health of our economy that we support our farmers during this difficult period of declining milk prices.”
Dear Secretary Vilsack:
We write today to express our concern about the troubling economic challenges facing U.S. dairy farmers and the entire U.S. dairy industry. We have seen farm milk prices drop forty percent since 2014 and in May the nation’s cheese stocks were recorded at their highest level since the data was first recorded in 1917. Current expectations are that the dairy market will continue to struggle with depressed prices and we seek your help as we search for ways to swiftly assist our nation’s struggling dairy farmers.
Our dairy farmers have been hit extremely hard by low farm milk prices that have resulted in sharply reduced incomes, which is placing our nation’s dairy industry in an extremely vulnerable position. A number of factors have contributed to this crisis. U.S. milk production has increased almost two percent above last year’s level, while global milk production is up significantly, partly as a result of the European Union’s decision to remove its milk production quotas and the loss of their export market to Russia. Furthermore, we are seeing an increase in production in other major milk-producing countries that have led to these depressed prices globally. All of this comes as our dairy farmers are still adjusting to the new Farm Bill, and the many changes that were made to our dairy support programs.
We are deeply concerned that U.S. dairy farmers, who are a key part of our agriculture community and agriculture economy, are in greater need of stability and support as they face these significantly lower prices, which for some are below their actual cost of production. As this industry is reeling from low prices, a glut of imports, challenges in our export markets, and poor economic growth projections we urge the USDA to use its secretarial authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act (15 U.S.C. 714c), Section 32 of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1935 (7 U.S.C. 612c), and look to past precedent for how to take action to protect all of our nation’s dairy farmers from further crisis and to aid in the expansion and maintenance of domestic markets. We encourage USDA to take any and all actions available in order to make an immediate market injection and offer financial assistance that will directly support U.S. dairy farmers equally, while being cautious to not stimulate overproduction further.
The family business of dairy farming has long been woven into our nation’s agricultural history. Across the country, in all 50 states, dairy farms large and small are economic drivers providing local jobs and local products. During the 2009 dairy collapse, we saw far too many families have to sell off their cows and close the doors for good. Through the support of USDA, we can hopefully prevent many farms from needing to make that same difficult decision today and we hope you will work to support all of our dairy farmers across the country. ?
We look forward to working closely with you in determining the best course of action to take in managing the current dairy industry financial crisis.
Thank you for taking the time to address this important matter. ?