WASHINGTON —Michael Dykes, D.V.M., President and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association, released the following statement today on USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program:
“Today’s announcement by the White House and USDA—the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program—is an important first step that begins to bring much-needed relief to the U.S. dairy industry. With $16 billion in payments to producers and $3 billion for food purchases, including at least $100 million per month in U.S. government purchases of a wide array of dairy products, this is a robust good-faith effort to ensure the dairy supply chain remains intact. IDFA requested that USDA and the White House act with urgency to deliver an aggressive mix of direct financial support for producers as well as food purchases to offset growing food insecurity. The Administration delivered with a creative approach on the product purchase side of this announcement. IDFA is pleased to see USDA go beyond traditional programming to streamline the process and forge an important partnership with the private and non-profit sectors to incorporate underutilized foodservice infrastructure—such as transportation and refrigerated storage—to quickly and efficiently get food to Americans in need. For our dairy processors who have lost their foodservice business, IDFA is grateful that these USDA purchases will go to those most in need of nutritious food and spur demand for additional dairy products.
“The dairy industry is pleased to work alongside our partners in the public, private and non-profit spaces to bring wholesome, nutritious dairy foods to our family, friends and neighbors across the United States who experience food insecurity as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply damaged the nation’s dairy industry and brought financial hardship to producers and processors alike. As the crisis wears on, the dairy industry expects to lose $5-$10 billion in sales for the remainder of the year. Foodservice closures, a weakened export outlook, and challenges within the supply chain have created conditions where the milk supply exceeds demand by at least 10%—a gap that could widen as supply increases to its seasonal peak and “shelter in place” conditions endure. IDFA will continue to urge Congress, the White House and USDA to use as many tools as possible—as quickly as possible—to bring relief to the dairy industry without creating any long-term market repercussions. In the months ahead, IDFA will continue to work with policymakers to design policies and programs, such as lending and working capital programs, that preserve the dairy supply chain and ensure dairy remains an important part of feeding Americans in need.
“To the men and women working on the front lines of this crisis in food and agriculture to safeguard the nation’s food security, you have the dairy industry’s deepest gratitude. IDFA is fighting to ensure the federal government continues to prioritize your health and safety and recognizes your selfless efforts with legislation that includes essential worker compensation. Thank you for all that you do.”