A request for $300 million in dairy relief funds to assist dairy farmers dealing with low milk prices has been made by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. The request that was sent on May 15 to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue seeks funding through the USDA as part of the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act.
“Now is a time of unprecedented distress on dairy farms in every state and a failure to provide meaningful relief will condemn hundreds of dairy farms and far families to financial ruin. While the Senate has acted to improve existing risk management tools, this is simply not enough to make up for years of financial hardship,” Gillibrand writes in the request.
Gillibrand cites fours years of declining milk prices and incomes as the reason for the needed funding and believes that the USDA should immediately provide assistance. “The sustainability of a dairy is now a function of the scale of the farm rather than the skill of the farmer. We must not allow this to continue,” Gillibrand states.
The Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act has been used in other similar applications by the USDA. The Trump and Obama Administrations have both used the act to provide $300 million to assist cotton producers through the Cotton Ginning Cost Share Program. The proposal put forth in Gillibrand’s request would provide an average of $8,000 to dairy farmers.
“While there is no comparable program to support dairy producers, milk, like cotton, must be handled and processed extensively prior to its sale. Therefore there are several points in milk production that are reasonable targets for USDA support including reductions in milk hauling fees, make allowances, and marketing program payments,” said Gillibrand.
Gillibrand is part of the Senate Agriculture Committee and has expressed her support of the dairy industry through several measures in the past year. Along with the request for dairy relief funds, she has also sought action on Canada’s trade barriers for milk and offered a proposal for a dairy price floor program.