Lawmakers call for reversal on COVID-19 relief for farmers

Wisconsin State Farmer
Sen. Tammy Baldwin speaks with a Wisconsin dairy farmer.

After USDA changed their pandemic relief program to exclude dairy losses related to meat production, 15 Senators are urging the Department to reverse course.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is among the group calling on the USDA to make the change.

While milk is the primary income for dairy farms, Baldwin says they often are diversified operations with significant revenue coming from the meat of cows as they are retired from milking. In the original Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), the USDA compensated dairy farmers and other livestock producers for losses related to meat produced from breeding animals. When USDA announced CFAP 2, the second version of the relief program, the Department made a significant change to exclude those losses.

“This change will affect the livestock industry and will be particularly harmful to dairy farmers who often operate at extremely tight margins,” wrote the Senators. “The decision is even more troubling considering that USDA clearly has sufficient resources to cover these losses. Additionally, it is less complicated for both USDA and farmers to cover all livestock and avoid confusion about what animals are covered or excluded.”

“Considering the dairy industry’s traditionally tight margins, USDA’s decision to shift course and arbitrarily exclude dairy farm losses related to meat production is a significant blow,” wrote the Senators. “We urge USDA to reverse this arbitrary decision and make breeding animals eligible for CFAP 2 like they were under the original relief program.”