July 28, 2016

Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106

WASHINGTON (July 28, 2016) – As the dairy industry faces significant market and policy setbacks, National Farmers Union (NFU) applauded today’s action by members of Congress requesting immediate support for U.S. dairy farmers. In a letter sent to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Vilsack, 27 Senators and 34 Representatives requested that the agency use its lawful authority to protect dairy farmers from further crisis while exercising caution to not stimulate overproduction.

“The challenges in the U.S. dairy industry have been mounting as milk prices remain low and dairy price programs have failed to work as intended. The need for immediate aid that directly supports family dairy farmers is at a critical tipping point, and I applaud the efforts of these Congressional champions for family dairy farmers in taking this important first step,” said NFU President Roger Johnson.

The letter recognizes the extremely low milk prices facing the industry, which for many farmers is below their actual cost of production.  Unfortunately, the Dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) passed in the last Farm Bill has not operated as intended, and lawmakers are urging USDA to take “any and all action available” to directly support U.S. dairy farmers.

Earlier this month, NFU announced the formation of an emergency planning committee to develop proposals for a strong safety net and emergency assistance for U.S. dairy producers during this period of economic turmoil. As NFU members continue to work towards long-term policy proposals, they will simultaneously look to Congress and the USDA to provide immediate relief.

Driving home the widespread nature of hardships facing dairies globally, the European Union recently announced proposals to provide financial assistance to European dairy producers. The EU package, worth €500 million, will provide incentives to reduce production, conditional adjustment aid, and other cash-flow relief measures.

“Too many dairy producers are cash-strapped and facing difficult decisions about the viability of their operations. It is not just a national problem, it’s a global challenge for dairy producers. It would be irresponsible to leave U.S. farmers to face prolonged market threats without a stable safety net,” Johnson concluded.

National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.


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