Dairy farmers and food banks are praising a recent U.S Department of Agriculture decision to purchase $50M worth of milk for the emergency food assistance program
The purchase should translate to around 13 million gallons of milk for distribution to food banks across the U.S.
Wisconsin organic dairy farmer Jim Goodman heads the National Family Farm Coalition, he said the USDA’s decision is a good start.
“Hopefully that helped some farmers out, but until we get a handle on this overproduction-- purchases like that really won't make an awful lot of difference,” Goodman said. “At least it may help some and it may help people who need some food, but it needs to be taken farther.”
West Kentucky Dairy Farmer Gary Rock is grateful the government acknowledges the dairy crisis, but says the one-time buy is small and temporary. He said the real action will come from implementing a quota based system. He said he believes that change will have to come from the companies that purchase the milk.
“It’s like the hogs at the trough don’t want to let the runts have anything,” Rock said. “The large operations have got influence with companies and the industry and that is the heart of the problem.”
Food banks across the Ohio Valley are also celebrating the one time distribution, but aren’t certain how much they will receive.
“Milk is one of the most requested items at food banks,” according to executive director of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks Tamara Sandberg. “But food bank clients receive the equivalent of less than one gallon of milk per person per year.”
Kentucky anticipates around 160-thousand gallons and Ohio estimates between 500 and 620 thousand gallons of milk.
Ohio and Kentucky food banks serve more than 2.6 million people each year.
“This announcement is a much-needed shot in the arm for the dairy industry,” said Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles.
“I was honored to appeal to the USDA on behalf of our dairy producers and the Kentucky Association of Food Banks. This purchase will provide fresh, nutritious milk to families in need. It also will provide a cushion for dairy farm families as we work together to address major structural changes in the dairy industry and chart a course going forward,” Quarles said.
Distribution dates for the milk have not been announced.