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Joint plan submitted to USDA by NMPF – IDFA to support dairy industry through COVID-19 crisis

Carol Spaeth-Bauer
Wisconsin State Farmer
A tanker full of milk backs up to a storage lagoon at Golden E Dairy in West Bend dumps the milk into the lagoon on April 1, 2020. Golden E was one of several farms through Dairy Farmers of America that was asked to dump milk in the midst of COVID-19.

With the collapse of the food service industry and massive economic insecurity coupled with a seasonally rising milk supply, two dairy groups proposed a plan to support the dairy industry through COVID-19.  

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) sent a set of recommendations to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on April 6, urging the Administration to take swift, comprehensive action to support the U.S. dairy industry through the COVID-19 crisis, according to a NMPF press release. The plan outlines how this disaster is affecting U.S. dairy from farm to fork and underscores the main challenge facing U.S. dairy today: Supply exceeds demand by at least 10% – a gap that could widen as supply increases to its seasonal peak and as “shelter in place” conditions endure. NMPF and IDFA urge USDA to use as many tools as possible – as quickly as possible – to bridge the supply and demand gap without creating any long-term market repercussions.

While the CARES Act will help bolster the programs during the COVID-19 crisis, the NMPF-IDFA plan calls for USDA and the Administration to go above and beyond traditional programs and solutions to bring balance and certainty to the dairy industry in the months ahead.

The plan requests that the federal government use every financial tool in its arsenal to bring balance to the dairy industry as quickly as possible. The organizations also ask that USDA harness the productive capacity of U.S. dairy to address the growing and widening food insecurity facing many Americans by redirecting wholesome, nutritious dairy foods to food banks and national nutrition programs, according to the press release. 

Jim Mulhern

The plan came after "extensive discussions across the industry,"  NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern said.

“As most of the country shelters in place and large swaths of the food service sector come to a standstill, dairy sales outside retail channels have plummeted. Market prices have fallen rapidly, creating a crushing economic outlook for producers of nutritious, and necessary, milk and dairy products,” said Mulhern. “While no plan can wholly remedy the losses that are occurring, dairy is responding with a united plan that can help mitigate the damage caused to it by the COVID-19 pandemic."

IDFA President and CEO Michael Dykes, D.V.M. said the dairy industry needs a "response that is robust, broad and strategic enough to lift all boats in a way that prevents long-term market impacts, preserves the supply chain so the industry remains intact once the COVID-19 crisis passes, and ensures dairy remains a vital part of feeding a growing number of food insecure Americans.”

Michael Dykes

“The COVID-19 crisis has hit the dairy industry with a unique set of challenges that impact our dairy farmers and processors equally hard,” said Dykes. “As the impact deepens across our economy, the federal government must go above and beyond traditional programs and solutions to bring balance and certainty to the dairy industry."

Carol Spaeth-Bauer at 262-875-9490 or carol.spaeth-bauer@jrn.com. Follow her on Twitter at cspaethbauer or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/carol.spaethbauer.