Dairy producers in Iowa and across the country are getting some help from the U.S.D.A.
Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says revenues for dairy producers have dropped 35 percent over the past two years and that’s led to a surplus of cheese which is at its highest level in 30 years.
“So, in an effort to try to provide help and assistance and to complement the work that we’ve done with the Margin Protection Program, we’re announcing a purchase of about 11 million pounds of cheese that will be used for food banks and pantries to help families who are struggling financially with their food assistance and food help,” Vilsack said.
The purchase is valued at $20 million and should help the market “a bit,” according to Vilsack. The 11 million pound purchase is far less than the amounts recommended by the National Milk Producers Federation and the American Farm Bureau.
“This is at the end of the fiscal year. We don’t have as much flexibility in the program, obviously, because we’ve already made commitments to purchase various other products throughout the year that are faced with a similar set of challenges and circumstances as our dairy producers are,” Vilsack explained.
In addition to the cheese purchase, Vilsack has extended the deadline for signup for the Margin Protection Program. Instead of having until September 30, dairy producers now have until December 16. Iowa ranks 7th in the country for cheese production. Wisconsin and California are by far the top two cheese producing states in the U.S.
(Thanks Julie Harker, Brownfield Ag News/photo courtesy of traveliowa.com)