Dairy farmers to be compensated for losses Pandemic-Related Volatility in Prices

The USDA’s Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance program will reimburse qualified dairy farmers for 80 percent of their monthly revenue. This is based upon an annual production up to 5,000,000 pounds of milk and fluid milk sales between July 2020 through December 2020.

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This story originally appeared on The Epoch Times

Dairy farmers who sold their products at abnormally low prices due to pandemic-related market volatility will be eligible for compensation under a $350 million federal program, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In an August.19 press release, the USDA revealed details about its Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program. 19. The scheme is designed to assist smaller farmers who lost their incomes last year due to the USDA’s large cheese purchases.

In March and April 2020, milk prices plummeted as restaurants and schools closed down. However, cheese prices rose after May saw the USDA launch its Food Box program, which was designed to aid farmers and other food workers by providing food direct to those in need.

Yet many producers failed to benefit from the booming cheese prices due in part to a change in pricing rules under the federal milk marketing system, with the American Farm Bureau Federation estimating that dairy farmers across the United States suffered $3 billion in foregone income.

The USDA’s Pandemic Market Volatility Program will reimburse qualified dairy farmers for 80 percent of their monthly revenue. This is based upon an annual production of at least 5 million pounds milk and fluid milk sales between July 2020 through December 2020. According to the agency, the rate of payment will be determined by the region’s actual loss on milk pooled due to price volatility.

In a statement, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stated that “Family milk farmers have been hit hard by the pandemic and trade issues and unpredictable weather” and were the lifeblood of rural communities in Vermont and the Northeast.

Through independent handlers or cooperatives, the agency will pay farmers.

Vilsack said, “This targeted assistance represents the first step of USDA’s comprehensive strategy that will amount to over $2 billion to aid the dairy industry recover and be more resilient for future challenges for the generations ahead.”

The market volatility assistance program is part of $6 billion in pandemic assistance that the USDA announced in March. Other pandemic-related programs to dairy farmers include $400 million for a new Dairy Donation Program to address food insecurity and mitigate food waste and $580 million for Supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage for small and medium farms.

Jim Mulhern, CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), praised USDA for its actions regarding the donation program as well as the margin coverage scheme. However, he said that the market volatility compensation program is not up to par.

Mulhern stated that the government’s COVID-19 reaction created extreme price volatility in milk markets and dairy-product market that caused disorderly fluid marketing conditions, which has so far cost milk farmers across the country more than $750 millions compared to what they would have received under the old system. Mulhern was referring specifically to the effects of the changes made by the 2018 Farm Bill.

Mulhern called the USDA’s announcement “an intial step” to assist producers with recouping as much as possible. However, Mulhern stated that it was “unfortunately far short of fulfilling the needs of milk farmers across the country.”

According to him, the “arbitraryly low coverage milk volume limits mean that many family dairy farmers won’t receive any of their losses last year.” He added that producers from all sizes felt the loss deeply in every region of the country. This was a true disaster.

Mulhern stated that the Federation would lobby Congress to obtain additional funding in order to close the gap.

Tom Ozimek

Tom Ozimek is a journalist, marketer, communications and marketing expert with a background in adult education, journalism and deposit insurance. Roy Peter Clark has the most valuable writing advice. He says, “Hit your target” and “leave it for last.”

Publited at Mon, 23 August 2021 13:17.56 +0000

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