Dairy groups are calling on the government for support through the COVID-19 pandemic. Milk supply exceeds demand by at least 10 percent in the U.S.
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) submitted a proposal to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) earlier this month. It details ways to support the struggling dairy industry.
“Shelter-in-place” orders across the nation have disrupted the dairy industry, according to the groups.
Restaurants and other foodservice businesses have suspended or greatly reduced service, leading to fewer dairy orders. The industry is also receiving significantly fewer orders for finished dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt.
The NMPF has requested “swift, comprehensive action” to help the dairy industry.
The Dairy Industry Requests Government Backup
The two groups recommend the “immediate” purchase of “substantial volumes of dairy products” for food banks.
The proposal also suggests permitting all fat levels and types of milk as well as larger container sizes at public schools. Students already must receive milk with school lunch per the National School Lunch Program.
Additional initiatives include encouraging the USDA to “increase the buying power of the SNAP recipients on an emergency basis” in order to create more dairy sales.
The proposed Healthy Fluid Milk Incentives Projects (HFMIP), originally created as part of the 2018 Farm Bill, would allot up to $20 million for testing methods of increasing milk purchases from SNAP recipients. The groups support additional federal funding for the HFMIP.
The NMPF and the IDFA state that the groups “stand ready to work with Congress and USDA” on the next coronavirus legislative package. The USDA announced that it would buy nearly $16 billion worth of meat and dairy to bail the industries out.
Declining Milk Consumption
The milk industry is struggling, caused by a number of factors, including dairy becoming part of global trade.
Milk consumption has been on a steady decline for decades, according to USDA data, falling from 273.8 cups per person annually in the 1980s to 198.8 pounds in 2012. Why are Americans drinking less milk? The USDA pinpoints generational differences. Consumers are also buying dairy in other forms. Cheese consumption shifted from 16.4 pounds per person a year to 36 pounds per person in 2012.