Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, one of the nation's largest dairy co-ops is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for direct financial relief to farmers who have had to dump their milk because of a massive collapse of the food service market. In addition to direct financial relief, dairy operators are also asking for major government purchases of dairy products to fill a growing need among food assistance programs as millions of Americans lose their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are seeking comments from our members on how the USDA should go forward in providing assistance to various segments of the agriculture market including the dairy industry,” said Doug Anderson, manager of the White County Farm Bureau. “The dairy industry has been highly disrupted. Milk that is usually made into cheese for the restaurant market has been disrupted. Even liquid milk for the restaurant industry is packaged differently. It's not so much a consumption issue as it is the industry having difficulty keeping up with a different kind of demand.”
Dairy officials are also asking the USDA for flexibility in labeling, packaging and nutritional guidelines for dairy products redistributed to food assistance programs so people can receive food without delays.
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