Ag Policy Blog

Dairy Groups Praise USDA Milk Purchase for Food Aid Programs

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent

The National Milk Producers Federation, the International Dairy Foods Association and Dairy Farmers of America have praised the Agriculture Department’s decision to buy $50 million worth of fluid milk for distribution to domestic food assistance programs – the first time the agency has bought milk for use in this manner.

The USDA said Tuesday that it will authorize the expenditure of $50 million in Section 32 funds to purchase a range of consumer-friendly milk varieties, including whole, 2 percent, 1 percent and skim. The agency will purchase the milk from approved vendors, and distribute the product – an estimated 12 million to 15 million gallons, depending on the prices agreed to by USDA and its suppliers – to food assistance organizations such as Feeding America.

“We are pleased that USDA is now including fluid milk in the assortment of foods it is buying and donating, as milk is in high demand at food banks because of its unparalleled nutritional benefits,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “This effort will help more Americans meet their U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommended daily consumption of milk. We appreciate this initial step and look forward to working with the department to continue building upon this effort.”

“As many as 41 million Americans, including nearly 13 million children, face hunger daily and are at risk of missing out on essential nutrients when they don’t have access to milk,” said IDFA President and CEO Michael Dykes.

“Milk is one of the most requested nutrition staples at food banks, yet it is rarely available,” said Julia Kadison, chief executive officer at MilkPEP. “And as one out of two kids ages 9 and up are falling short on calcium, vitamin D and potassium – essential nutrients that milk provides – there is an even greater need to make sure milk is getting to children and families who need it most.”

John Wilson, senior vice president and chief fluid marketing officer of Dairy Farmers of America, a farmer-owned cooperative, said, “This purchase will offer a great benefit for those that struggle with hunger and malnutrition today. We appreciate USDA acknowledging the important part milk plays in a healthy diet and partnering with the dairy industry in getting milk to those in need across the country.”

Animal ag groups ask Senate conferees for permanent funding for vaccine bank

A coalition of 120 animal agriculture groups sent a letter to Senate farm bill conferees today requesting their support for “permanent, full funding” for the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program in the farm bill conference report. The letter states that it is critical that the 2018 farm bill “provide permanent, full funding to address these risks to animal health while likewise bolstering the long-term ability of U.S. animal agriculture to be competitive in the global marketplace and provide consumers around the world safe, wholesome, affordable food produced in a sustainable manner.”

The House version of the farm bill provides $450 million in mandatory funding over five years for programs including the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program, and the National Animal Vaccine Bank.

The Senate provides an authorization for appropriations, but no mandatory funding.

The Coalition letter to Senate farm bill conferees https://goo.gl/…

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at jhagstrom@njdc.com

Follow him on Twitter @hagstromreport

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