Maine, NH Delegations Call on USDA to Boost Support for Dairy Farmers Facing Economic Crisis Due to COVID-19

Washington, D.C.—All eight members of the Maine and New Hampshire Congressional Delegations wrote to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today, urging him to provide price stabilizing assistance to assist New England dairy farmers who are struggling with plummeting prices for milk products and increased costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The letter was signed by U.S. Senators Susan Collins, Jeanne Shaheen, Angus King, and Maggie Hassan and U.S. Representatives Chellie Pingree, Ann Kuster, Chris Pappas, and Jared Golden. The group reiterated concerns and priorities expressed in a letter recently sent to Secretary Perdue by New England state Departments of Agriculture, which was signed by Maine Commissioner Amanda Beal and New Hampshire Commissioner Shawn Jasper.

 

“At a time when the entire agricultural sector is facing economic harm and uncertainty, USDA should ensure that dairy farmers are provided with stabilizing assistance,” the members of the Maine and New Hampshire Delegations wrote.  “These farmers are essential employees working hard to produce the milk and dairy products our country needs during this pandemic, and we must do everything we can to quickly deliver the support that they need.”

 

Specifically, the Members of Congress requested that USDA work with Maine and New Hampshire’s agriculture commissioners to:

 

  • Provide direct payments to dairy farmers;

 

  • Purchase additional dairy products for emergency distribution;

 

  • Consider lowering the premium levels for Dairy Margin Coverage and allowing a buy up for farms that did register for the program at the end of 2019 if Congress makes it retroactive; and

 

  • Consider setting a floor price for dairy farms and dairy products, including butter, nonfat dry milk, cheddar blocks and barrels, dry whey.

 

The CARES Act included support for farmers by allocating $9.5 billion for agricultural assistance and an additional $14 billion for the Commodity Credit Corporation, but the agriculture industry needs continued assistance to cope with loss of sales due to the on-going pandemic.

 

Click HERE to read the letter.