Responding to dairy industry petitions, the USDA said it would open a hearing on Aug. 23 on possible changes to the complex Federal Milk Marketing Order system that sets the price farmers get for fresh milk.
The Agriculture Department should insist on comprehensive reform of U.S. dairy pricing rather than considering a piecemeal approach from dairy processors for an increase in the so-called make allowance, said the American Farm Bureau Federation on Wednesday. “We urge you to reject the current proposals that risk further burden to America’s dairy farmers,” wrote AFBF president Zippy Duvall in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Americans know the difference in origin between cow’s milk and plant-based milk, and they ought to be told when a dairy alternative has a different nutrient makeup, said the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday. Its proposal, for a statement on packages for many types of plant-based milks, satisfied neither side in the years-old argument over what can be called “milk.”
The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement is six months shy of its third anniversary and the United States already has requested a third set of bilateral consultations over its objections to Canada's dairy quota system. U.S. trade representative Katherine Tai announced the request on Tuesday, saying the government has identified additional aspects of Canadian import rules that violate its agreement to allow a larger volume of U.S. dairy imports.
With congressional adjournment on the horizon, a parade of farmers, food processors, and lawmakers called on the Senate on Wednesday to get to work on legislation to give legal status to undocumented farmworkers and streamline the H-2A guestworker program. The House passed an ag labor bill 19 months ago, but nothing has emerged from behind-the-scenes negotiations in the Senate on the issue.
Farmers have received $4.8 billion in long-promised payments of $20 an acre on crops that range from corn, soybeans, and wheat to sorghum and sugar beets, said USDA data on Monday. It was the largest disbursement of coronavirus relief funds since the Biden administration took office.
To reduce food waste and help feed hungry Americans, the USDA will spend an estimated $400 million to reimburse dairy organizations for donating products to food banks, said Deputy Agriculture Secretary Jewel Bronaugh on Wednesday. The donation program was the second component of pandemic relief to dairy farmers that would total $2 billion this year.
Global food company Danone has given a year's notice to 79 organic dairy farms in the Northeast that it will stop buying their milk on Aug. 31, 2022. The decision is just the latest squeeze on organic dairy producers, who face rising costs and pressures to consolidate.
In an expansion of its pandemic portfolio, the Biden administration said it would pay an estimated $350 million to dairy farmers to offset lower milk prices caused by market abnormalities during the second half of 2020. The payments will benefit farms with smaller herds the most.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced up to $200 million in pandemic relief for loggers and timber haulers on Tuesday and said "there is more to come" for agriculture in the weeks ahead. Aid will include $700 million for biofuel producers and $980 million in dairy supports.
Trade ministers from Canada, Mexico and the United States are scheduled to confer digitally on Monday and Tuesday in the first meeting of the USMCA's Fair Trade Commission, with dairy expected to be the hot topic. U.S. dairy groups called on Sunday for the Biden administration to escalate an ongoing complaint against Canadian dairy quotas unless this week's meeting produces results.
Row crop farmers would see payments of $20 an acre and livestock producers would be compensated for animals culled during the pandemic under the $900 billion coronavirus relief bill that was unexpectedly challenged by President Trump on Tuesday, a day after Congress passed it. The $13 billion bill includes a $400 million dairy donation program, aid to contract poultry growers, and assistance for textile mills and, potentially, ethanol refineries.
The Trump administration said it was challenging Canadian quotas on dairy imports as unfair to U.S. milk producers. The challenge, announced on Wednesday, was the first under the United States-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement.
Farmers and ranchers will begin signing up for $16 billion in coronavirus payments by the end of May if all goes according to plan, said a USDA spokesperson on Thursday. In that case, the payments would follow the USDA’s awarding of contracts for another part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, the Farmers to Families Food Box. (No paywall)
Besides billions of dollars in cash payments to farmers, coronavirus relief will include purchases of "as much" milk and meat as possible for hunger relief, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday. President Trump says at least $16 billion will be spent on aid to agriculture. (No paywall)
The USDA is working with a smaller amount of money for coronavirus relief than is commonly believed, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday. He indicated the agency has $15.5 billion at its disposal — two-thirds of the figure that has been widely cited. (No paywall)
Americans will eat more chicken, already their favorite meat, as stay-at-home orders have consumers shopping at the supermarket rather than going to restaurants, said ag lender CoBank on Thursday in assessing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on food producers and processors. (No paywall)
U.S. milk production is projected to top 220 billion pounds this year as a long-running structural shift puts production in the hands of fewer, but larger, dairies. At the same time, the USDA said there were 34,187 dairy herds licensed to sell milk in 2019, a drop of 9 percent from the previous year.