Those within the industry have worked tirelessly to respond in a timely and strategic manner to the challenges brought about by COVID-19. The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) is one such agency working on the behalf of those in the dairy sector. Recently, the association commended the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its timely responses to COVID-19 while also outlining what agency actions could best aid dairy farmers as they brace for further market impacts.
“Over the last five weeks, the [USDA’s] estimate of 2020 milk prices reflect a drop of about $2.85 billion at the farm level,” wrote NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern in a letter sent to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “Further drops are possible as the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak spreads. The demand shock experienced by our entire economy is turning what initially looked to dairy farmers like the first decent year in the last five into one of potentially widespread economic devastation.”
Dairy farmers and their work have been affirmed as critical infrastructure by the Department of Homeland Security. NMPF noted that these farmers will face price declines and unstable demand over the next several months, as joblessness rises, schools remain closed, and farm and dairy processing operations face unprecedented logistical challenges.
Congress and the Trump Administration have already helped by approving food purchases and offering flexibility in transportation rules, NMPF noted in a press release. In the letter to Sonny Perdue, the association said it looks forward to working with the USDA in program implementation, trade facilitation, and other areas, but said additional remedies will be needed, including:
“U.S. dairy farmers and their cooperatives will continue to be careful stewards of the naturally nutritious and wholesome product we harvest around the clock, 365 days a year. Like you, we understand the importance of steady production and steady consumption,” Mulhern concluded. “We hope to work with you on the priorities outlined above, as well as other issues that may arise as we collectively grapple with the consequences of this unique challenge.”
As the industry continues to weather the challenges, Deli Market News will be here to bring you the latest updates as they pertain to industry members.