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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announces immediate relief for struggling dairy producers

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack July 31 announced that the Obama Administration is taking immediate action to support struggling dairy farmers by increasing the amount paid for dairy products through the Dairy Product Price Support Program. USDA estimates show that these increases, which will be in place from August 2009 through October 2009, will increase dairy farmers' revenue by $243 million.

"The Obama Administration is committed to pursuing all options to help dairy producers," said Vilsack. "The price increase announced today will provide immediate relief to dairy farmers around the country and keep many on the farm while they weather one of the worst dairy crises in decades."

The increase announced July 31 will raise the price paid for nonfat dry milk from $0.80 per pound to $0.92 per pound, the price paid for cheddar blocks from $1.13 per pound to $1.31 per pound, and the price of cheddar barrels from $1.10 per pound to $1.28 per pound. This increase in the support price will have an immediate effect upon dairy farmers' bottom line. Temporarily raising the price of these dairy products increases the price that dairy farmers receive for their milk.

USDA estimates that the July 31 announcement is expected to increase the all milk price received by dairy producers. The increase will result in the government purchase of an additional 150 million pounds of non-fat dry milk and an additional 75 million pounds of cheese.

Prior to the July 31 announcement, USDA had taken several steps to provide support for dairy farmers, including the following:

In March, USDA transferred approximately 200 million pounds of nonfat dry milk to USDA's Food and Nutrition Service, which will not only remove inventory from the market, but also support low-income families struggling to put nutritious food on their tables.

USDA expects to spend more than $1 billion in fiscal year 2009 on purchases of dairy products (Dairy Product Price Support Program) and payments to producers (Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC).

On March 22, USDA reactivated USDA's Dairy Export Incentive Program (DEIP), to help U.S. dairy exporters meet prevailing world prices in addition to encouraging the development of international export markets in areas where U.S. dairy products are not competitive due to subsidized dairy products from other countries.

Since March 22, USDA has encouraged the export of 20,000 tons of nonfat dry milk.

From July 2008 through June 30, DEIP has announced allocations of 68,201 metric tons of nonfat dry milk; 21,097 metric tons of butterfat; 3,030 metric tons of various cheeses and 34 metric tons of other dairy products.

USDA is working with the Department of State to identify foreign assistance programs such as U.S. Agency for International Development and McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program to make the following available:

At least 1 million pounds on a competitive basis, for the production of casein;

About 500,000 pounds for use in the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program; and

About 1 million pounds for use by the U.S. Agency for International Development, based on anticipated requests from the State Department.

USDA is currently reviewing federal dairy policy to determine what changes are needed to reduce price volatility and enhance farmer profitability.



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