WASHINGTON (December 16, 2016) – As U.S. dairy producers continue to struggle with multi-year price lows and an inadequate safety net, National Farmers Union (NFU) is calling on Congress to provide meaningful support for the nation’s dairy sector.
NFU’s Board of Directors released a resolution calling on legislators to provide the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the authority to provide direct assistance to struggling producers, and to refund dairy Margin Protection Program premiums.
“U.S. dairy farmers are experiencing an extended period of very low milk prices which, unless corrected, will force thousands of farmers out of business,” the resolution states. “NFU calls on Congress to advance spending legislation that includes relief for dairy farmers through additional authority for the USDA to provide direct assistance as an alternative to dairy product purchases and a refund of 2015 Margin Protection Program premiums.”
The resolution notes that dairy prices have fallen by more than 40 percent in just the past two years, and that the Dairy Margin Protection Program has not performed as expected. The USDA provided initial relief to the dairy sector in recent months through purchases of surplus cheese, but the modest price rebounds have not been enough to stem the amount of producers draining their capital reserves or going out of business.
“NFU has been appreciative of USDA’s willingness to provide support to struggling dairy producers, but the agency has run out of options for providing additional relief,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “Congress needs to act quickly to allow USDA to directly support our nation’s dairy farmers who are struggling to stay in business.”
NFU Board of Director’s resolution follows repeated requests from both NFU and members of Congress, who have all called on the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives appropriations committees to provide critical, short-term support to U.S. dairy producers.
“NFU, as well as a number of other farm groups and legislators, have been sounding the alarm for months, and we have yet to see any meaningful action from the appropriations committees that would deliver support to family dairy producers,” said Johnson.
“While the ultimate aim of Congress should be to improve the long-term safety net contained in the farm bill, failing to provide short-term relief risks doing even more harm to a sector already reeling from low prices and business closures,” the resolution concludes.