Monday, March 30, 2009

American Farm Bureau Reacts To Dairy Plan

Farm Bureau: USDA Milk Purchase Provides Two-Fold Assistance

WASHINGTON—The American Farm Bureau Federation today said that strategic purchases of dairy products made this week by the Agriculture Department for the nation’s school lunch and nutrition programs will also help provide needed support to the nation’s dairy farmers.

USDA announced on Thursday that $160 million in surplus dry milk will be made available for school lunches and food donations to help the poor. The action drew praise from AFBF, which prior to the action sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack calling for such action.

In that letter, AFBF President Bob Stallman urged the administration to take additional action to immediately help dairy farmers weather the crushing collapse in dairy prices.

“Given the suddenness and severity of the plunge in farm-level milk prices, a significant number of farmers won’t survive much longer with the prices they’re receiving,” Stallman said. “The farm-level milk prices in February were down nearly 50 percent from the beginning of 2008, even though farmers’ input costs, including feed and fuel, are still above historic averages. The economic downturn, growth in world supplies of dairy products, lower international and domestic demand, and high input costs are leaving farmers unable to even cover their input costs.”

Stallman called the USDA purchase of dairy products a “two-fold opportunity to assist U.S. dairy producers and provide ample amounts of dairy products to nutrition programs at a time when many Americans need this assistance.”

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