Courtney Calls USDA Dairy Announcement A "Modest First Step," Says More Action Needed
NORWICH, CT – Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-2) released the following statement today after the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s announcement that it will purchase $20 million of cheese off the domestic dairy market. The USDA’s action follows a bipartisan, bicameral letter Courtney led last month asking USDA to take action to aid dairy producers struggling with declining milk prices.
“The dairy industry in Connecticut and across the country is continuing to struggle with tight margins and decreasing milk prices,” said Courtney. “While I appreciate USDA’s quick response to our urgent request for assistance for our dairy farmers, it is clear that this modest first step does not go far enough to make a substantial difference on the ground. I will continue to work with my colleagues to find long-term, comprehensive solutions to lift up our nation’s struggling dairy industry.”
Under today’s announcement, UDSA will purchase 11 million pounds of cheese from private inventories to assist food banks and pantries across the nation, which USDA says will reduce a cheese surplus that is at its highest level in 30 years. USDA also announced today that it will extend the Margin Protect Program (MPP) enrollment period from September 30 to December 16, 2016.
Earlier this month, USDA announced that it would be making $11.2 million in assistance available to MPP enrollees who purchased protection starting at the $6.00 per hundredweight level. While this was welcome news in many parts of the country, Connecticut margins have typically been narrower than the national average used by USDA which puts farmers in the region at a competitive disadvantage.
As a co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Dairy Caucus, Congressman Courtney has been actively working to ensure that federal dairy programs address the growing challenges faced by dairy farmers in Connecticut and across the country. In April, Courtney introduced bipartisan legislation to use regional margin calculations rather than a national average in the MPP which will improve the program for Connecticut farmers.
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