USDA establishes dairy donation program as pandemic aid
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh today announced the establishment of a $400 million Dairy Donation Program.
Under the DDP, eligible dairy organizations will partner with nonprofit feeding organizations that distribute food to individuals and families in need. Those partnerships may apply for and receive reimbursements to cover some expenses related to eligible dairy product donations.
“The benefits of the Dairy Donation Program are twofold – it supplements other financial support for producers while providing nutritious dairy products to American families,” said Bronaugh. “When there is surplus milk production, we encourage the milk be donated instead of being dumped. Together, we can help someone in need, minimize food waste and support the U.S. dairy industry.”
DDP was inspired in part by the donations made by Michigan Milk Producers Association in conjunction with the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan in response to the Flint water crisis. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., participated with Bronaugh, dairy producers and a representative of Feeding America in a call to reporters.
“Michigan dairy farm families and food banks continue to lead by example. I am proud of the role they played in pioneering this initiative, which has become a model for the nation,” Stabenow said. Asked about the potential for this program and other forms of pandemic aid to add to the farm bill baseline so that there would be more budget authority available for the 2023 farm bill, Stabenow said, “I always welcome more baseline.”
“Michigan is on every page” of the program, Bronaugh told reporters. Bronaugh also noted that, while previous programs have distributed milk, this program covers other dairy products including cheese and yogurt.
The program will be run by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, and details may be found on its website.
The International Dairy Foods Association and the National Milk Producers Federation both praised the program.
IDFA President and CEO Michael Dykes said, “IDFA applauds USDA for finalizing the Dairy Donation Program, making it possible for U.S. dairy companies to donate fresh, nutritious dairy products to nonprofit organizations reaching Americans struggling with hunger and food insecurity. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. dairy producers and dairy foods companies have led efforts to feed the hungry and support struggling communities. With the Dairy Donation Program announced today, USDA is providing our industry with one more tool to reach Americans in need. The dairy industry welcomes the opportunity to continue to partner with non-profits, charities, and other organizations working to combat hunger and nutrition insecurity.”
National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern said, “We thank USDA leadership for their work to bring the Dairy Donation Program to fruition. This important program will help dairy farmers and the cooperatives they own to do what they do best: feed families nationwide. Dairy stakeholders are eager to enhance their partnerships with food banks and other distributors to provide dairy products to those experiencing food insecurity, which the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated.”
Vince Hall, interim chief government relations officer at Feeding America, said, “Feeding America applauds today’s announcement implementing the Dairy Donation Program, which has the potential to connect millions of additional pounds of dairy donations through food banks to the people we serve.”
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