Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) joined a bipartisan group of colleagues in urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide additional relief to dairy farmers as they weather the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted dairy supply chains and has caused disruptive price volatility,” the Senators wrote. “Feed, labor, farm equipment, and energy costs have all increased as the result of the pandemic and contributed to lower profits for dairy farmers. In addition, dairy farmers have experienced challenges receiving a fair price for their milk as a result of the change to the…milk price formula...that has caused dairy farmers collectively to lose out on $725 million dollars in income since the change was implemented in May 2019.”
“We appreciate USDA’s work to implement the relief for farmers provided by Congress, as well as the agency’s commitment to support dairy farmers during the COVID-19 pandemic across a variety of programs; however…By allocating more direct payments through CFAP, USDA could take action to reduce the strain that dairy farmers are facing...Continuing these payments would help alleviate the loss of dairy farms we are seeing in the Northeast and around the country and give dairy farmers’ additional relief as they continue to face the fallout of this pandemic,” the Senators continued.
In the letter, the Senators highlighted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on costs facing dairy farmers, as well as the impact of milk pricing changes that resulted in $725 million in lost income for dairy farmers, with disproportionate impacts on small and mid-size dairy operations. They called on the USDA to provide more direct payments and assistance through USDA programs such as the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), or through other new programs, to help reduce the strain facing dairy farmers. Today’s letter is the latest push by Senators Collins and King to stand up for Maine dairy farmers – last month, they cosponsored the Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, milk, and cheese to Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday Act (DAIRY PRIDE Act), bipartisan legislation to combat the unfair practice of mislabeling non-dairy products using dairy names.
In addition to Senators Collins and King, the letter was signed by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Dick Durbin (D-IL).
Click HERE to read the full letter.