WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ This was supposed to be a good year for dairy farmers with new markets in Canada thanks to the USMCA trade deal.
But instead, dairy farmers in upstate New York and around the country are dumping milk down the drain because of a lack of demand.
“This is probably one of the worst situations dairy has been in in a number of years,” Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-New York, said.
Brindisi said dairy farmers are struggling to sell their products with many stores closing up shop due to the coronavirus.
“The demand is not among the restaurants or the school lunch programs as much,” Brindisi explained.
He said there needs to be a better way to ensure the dairy farms survive the economic impact of the pandemic.
“There is an increase in demand among food banks for dairy products, there’s a huge demand in grocery stores, those sales have gone up 40%,” Brindisi said.
Until Congress can provide more financial relief, Brindisi is calling upon the U.S. Department of Agriculture to step in and help.
Secretary of the USDA Sonny Perdue said he has a plan to help the struggling diary farmers.
“It’s really a shame to see milk being dumped,” Perdue said. “About 2 billion in taking the product off the market, excess product – milk, pork, protein, produce that are buying – delivering to food banks and delivering it to people who need it.”
Alan Bjerga with the National Milk Producers Federation calls the plan encouraging, but money along will not fix the problem.
“It’s absolutely the right step the question is the scope of that step,” Bjerga said. “They need the purchaser they need the distribution network. Again, you can keep dairy farmers in business and keep plants operating if you create this mechanism.”
Perdue said he’s presenting his plan for the president’s approval later this week.