WASHINGTON, April 7, 2020— The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) sent a set of recommendations to the U.S. Department of Agriculture yesterday urging the Administration to take swift, comprehensive action to support the U.S. dairy industry through the COVID-19 crisis. The plan outlines how this disaster is affecting U.S. dairy from farm to fork and underscores the main challenge facing U.S. dairy today: Supply exceeds demand by at least 10% – a gap that could widen as supply increases to its seasonal peak and as “shelter in place” conditions endure. NMPF and IDFA urge USDA to use as many tools as possible – as quickly as possible – to bridge the supply and demand gap without creating any long-term market repercussions.
NMPF and IDFA are grateful to Congress and the Administration for moving quickly to pass and sign into law the CARES Act, a substantial relief package to bolster the programs and support mechanisms needed to weather the COVID-19 crisis. The NMPF-IDFA plan calls for USDA and the Administration to go above and beyond traditional programs and solutions to bring balance and certainty to the dairy industry in the months ahead. Through the CARES Act, Congress has deployed substantial financial resources to USDA. To ensure the U.S. dairy industry is intact following the COVID-19 disaster, NMPF and IDFA request the federal government use every financial tool in its arsenal to bring balance to the dairy industry as quickly as possible. The organizations also ask that USDA harness the productive capacity of U.S. dairy to address the growing and widening food insecurity facing many Americans by redirecting wholesome, nutritious dairy foods to food banks and national nutrition programs.
“The COVID-19 crisis has hit the dairy industry with a unique set of challenges that impact our dairy farmers and processors equally hard,” said IDFA President and CEO Michael Dykes, D.V.M. “As the impact deepens across our economy, the federal government must go above and beyond traditional programs and solutions to bring balance and certainty to the dairy industry. The CARES Act deployed substantial financial resources to USDA to address dairy’s unique challenges. The IDFA-NMPF plan calls for USDA and the Administration to bring those resource to bear as quickly as possible. The dairy industry requires a response that is robust, broad and strategic enough to lift all boats in a way that prevents long-term market impacts, preserves the supply chain so the industry remains intact once the COVID-19 crisis passes, and ensures dairy remains a vital part of feeding a growing number of food insecure Americans.”
“As most of the country shelters in place and large swaths of the foodservice sector come to a standstill, dairy sales outside retail channels have plummeted. Market prices have fallen rapidly, creating a crushing economic outlook for producers of nutritious, and necessary, milk and dairy products,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “While no plan can wholly remedy the losses that are occurring, dairy is responding with a united plan that can help mitigate the damage caused to it by the COVID-19 pandemic. After extensive discussions across the industry, we have developed this comprehensive action plan to address many of the key marketplace challenges created by the pandemic and are presenting it to USDA. We will engage in discussions with USDA in the coming days about the proposal, urging the department, as we know it will, to move quickly to address the effects of the pandemic on our industry. We look forward to working closely with USDA as we fight for dairy farmers.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the U.S. dairy supply chain in a matter of weeks, lowering milk prices, sapping demand by shutting down most restaurants and other foodservice businesses, and bringing unprecedented challenges to our dairy farms and processors. Together, NMPF and IDFA are unified in their proposal to USDA and the Administration and will continue to work around the clock to ensure the U.S. dairy industry remains a viable, critical piece of our national, economic and food security.
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The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation’s dairy manufacturing and marketing industry, which supports more than 3 million jobs that generate $159 billion in wages and $620 billion in overall economic impact. IDFA’s diverse membership ranges from multinational organizations to single-plant companies, from dairy companies and cooperatives to food retailers and suppliers, all on the cutting edge of innovation and sustainable business practices. Together, they represent 90 percent of the milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt and cultured products, and dairy ingredients produced and marketed in the United States and sold throughout the world. Delicious, safe and nutritious, dairy foods offer unparalleled health and consumer benefits to people of all ages.