WASHINGTON —Michael Dykes, D.V.M., President and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association, released the following statement today on Congressional passage of the $2 trillion CARES Act and highlights the need for the federal government to make dairy purchases:
“The International Dairy Foods Association commends Congress for acting swiftly and decisively to bring financial relief to American businesses, households and workers as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, which has delivered an historic blow to our nation’s economy and workforce. On behalf of America’s dairy industry, IDFA is grateful that this bipartisan bill has put a special emphasis on businesses large and small, farmers, and our rural communities who grow, process and distribute many of the foods and beverages that are so vital to Americans during this crisis. We urge Congress to continue to be mindful of the critical part the food industry plays in our national security, economic security and food security. The United States is the world’s most productive food and agricultural economy in the world, and our legislators and federal officials must do everything in their power to ensure continuity of operations throughout the food supply chain. Our food security is absolutely essential.
“Now we are seeing record jobless claims for Americans, which presents hardships to families just trying to put nutritious, wholesome food on their tables. Our federal government must now turn its attention to those Americans most in need by ensuring our food banks, pantries and distributors have an abundant supply of food for families trying to make ends meet. The CARES Act includes billions of dollars to support federal nutrition and feeding programs, as well as $450 million for USDA to provide food banks with additional resources for food and distribution. With resources in place through replenishment of the Commodity Credit Corporation, billions for nutrition and feeding programs, and millions to support our food banks, it is incumbent on USDA to act without delay.
“We urge USDA to act today to make record purchases of fluid and powdered milk, cheese, and other dairy products, as well as other foods and commodities, to equip our food banks for a surge of food-insecure Americans and to bring certainty and balance to the marketplace due to whole sectors of the economy shutting down due to COVID-19.
“The closure of restaurants, cafes, bars and other food service operators as a result of COVID-19 has created a major market gap for our dairy producers and processors. While retail sales have climbed steadily, the loss of foodservice, which accounted for roughly 50% of all food sales, has presented a significant challenge to our industry. USDA should act now to direct those products to food banks to help people in need. This will prioritize those most in need, provide certainty to producers and agribusinesses, and restore needed balance in the marketplace.”
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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.