WASHINGTON – This week, U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) joined a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to extend assistance to the dairy industry, which has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Large sectors of the U.S. economy have closed due to COVID-19, including long-existing markets for U.S. dairy producers. This standstill has left dairy farmers with an excess of products that were originally intended for the food service industry and no means to get their milk, butter, cheese and yogurt into the hands of consumers.
The letter requests USDA to utilize agriculture assistance provisions in the Phase III Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide stability to the dairy industry and prevent a collapse in dairy prices.
“In this case assistance for the dairy industry adds up to both help for farmers and nutritious food for the entire country,” wrote the senators. “Support for Americans suddenly in need of food assistance is a national priority at this time of need. Economic stability for the dairy industry will help ensure that a stable and abundant food supply is available to the public at reasonable prices now and long into the future.”
Sen. Moran was joined by U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), John Thune (R-N.D.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Steve Daines (R-Mont.).
The full letter is below and here.
April 13, 2020The Honorable Sonny Perdue
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20250
Dear Secretary Perdue:
We thank you for the tremendous amount of time and effort you and the entire team at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are bringing to the policy table so that farmers can survive and Americans can keep food on their kitchen table. Our farmers and ranchers are doing their part to help the nation navigate the effort to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. Your work is providing valuable assistance in that partnership you so often refer to in your motto to “Do Right and Feed Everyone.”
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress and signed into law on March 27th includes several provisions for assistance to agriculture. While few sectors of the economy have been spared from the economic impacts of the heroic efforts of Americans to contain the spread of the coronavirus, perhaps none have experienced the loss of markets to the degree of the U.S. dairy industry. For example, products typically sold to dine-in restaurants, that nearly all have closed due to social distancing requirements, are backing up in warehouses and much of the farm milk used to make those products no longer has a market.
Farm milk prices are on the verge of collapse due to this shift in consumer demand. Dairy producers who, just a few weeks ago were looking at the prospect of the first promising year in more than five, are now in the most economic difficulty in memory.
In this case assistance for the dairy industry adds up to both help for farmers and nutritious food for the entire country. Support for Americans suddenly in need of food assistance is a national priority at this time of need. Economic stability for the dairy industry will help ensure that a stable and abundant food supply is available to the public at reasonable prices now and long into the future.
The Congress provided several ways in the CARES Act to help the dairy industry. We urge you to develop strong measures to help mitigate the current market upheaval so that the dairy industry can survive this crisis.
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