Klobuchar Announces Help for Minnesota Dairy Farmers

Thursday, March 26th, 2009 at 11:21 am

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar announced Thursday that within a week after stating his intentions to help financially-stressed dairy farmers while at a town hall meeting in St. Cloud, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will take action to help dairy farmers struggling with the recent steep decline in dairy prices.  Klobuchar first urged Secretary Vilsack to assist dairy farmers last month and secured an initial commitment for help when the two traveled to St. Cloud last week with Vice President Joe Biden to participate in a meeting of the White House’s Middle Class Task Force.

“Providing immediate and targeted support to stabilize prices is essential to helping our dairy farmers deal with market forces that are beyond their control,” said Klobuchar.  “Farmers are especially vulnerable during these tough economic times and Secretary Vilsack’s actions today will help protect our family farmers.”

Falling prices of dairy products, combined with unusually high costs and a drop-off in international demand due to the global economic crisis have imperiled the dairy industry.   The price of milk has dropped 50 percent from a year ago according to USA Today.

Klobuchar recently met with nearly 75 dairy farmers in a packed room at Freddie’s Restaurant in Mora, Minnesota in late February to hear about the impact of declining dairy prices.  See the Story

Vilsack announced Thursday that the USDA will create a program to purchase dairy products from the market and provide them to food shelf programs in order to stabilize prices and boost demand.

Specifically, USDA will make available about 200 million pounds of nonfat dry milk (NDM) for further processing or barter.  The acquired products are expected to include items such as instantized NDM, ultra high temperature milk, cheese, and soups for domestic feeding programs. This includes:

* 40 million pounds of NDM will be fortified and instantized, placed into consumer-sized packages, and made available for use in the National School Lunch Program, TEFAP, CSFP, and FDPIR;

* 30 million pounds of NDM will be donated to States for further processing to acquire fortified fat-free fluid milk and macaroni and cheese, for use in the National School Lunch Program;

* 60 million pounds of NDM will be bartered for 1% ultra high temperature milk, for use in TEFAP;

* 20 million pounds of NDM will be bartered for ready-to-eat, milk-based soups (Creamy Tomato, Cheese), for use in TEFAP; and

* 50 million pounds of NDM will be bartered for reduced fat and lite cheeses, for use in the National School Lunch Program and TEFAP.

In addition to the 200 million pounds above, USDA also plans to make NDM available as follows:

* at least 1 million pounds on a competitive basis, for the production of casein;

* about 500,000 pounds for use in the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program; and

* about 1 million pounds for use by the U.S. Agency for International Development, based on anticipated requests from the State Department.

Products should be moving through the supply chain starting in this spring and continuing through 2009.

For more information about the Dairy Product Price Support Program please visit www.fsa.usda.gov.

In February, Senator Klobuchar joined with Senators Kohl, Feingold and other Senators to send a letter to the Secretary asking him to take action to help stabilize prices and protect Minnesota’s farmers from the rapidly declining milk prices.

(From Office of Sen. Amy Klobuchar)

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