The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced yesterday that it would purchase approximately 11 million pounds of cheese valued at $20 million in an effort to help dairy producers. According to the department, the cheese will be distributed to food banks and families enrolled in USDA’s nutrition assistance programs.

The department also announced that it will extend the deadline for producers to enroll in the Margin Protection Program (MPP) for Dairy to December 16, 2016. Last year’s MPP sign-up deadline was November 20.

According to USDA, more than 11.7 billion pounds of cheese were produced in the United States in 2015, an average of nearly 1 billion pounds per month. As of July 31 of this year, there were nearly 1.3 billion pounds of natural cheese in refrigerated warehouses around the country. Removing 11 million pounds, or less than one percent, of these inventories is expected to have a minimal commercial impact on dairy market prices. 

Moreover, the wholesale price of 40-pound cheddar cheese blocks at the CME Group spot market has increased by 45 percent since May, so market prices have already moved significantly in the past three months.  

For more information on USDA’s plans, contact Bob Yonkers, IDFA vice president and chief economist, at