As dairy farmers across the country worry about demand dwindling, there is a sign of help from the USDA. The USDA will be providing guidance to help farmers who are taking an economic hit.
NBC Palm Springs spoke to Congressman Raul Ruiz who broke the news Thursday morning. In the next couple of days, the USDA is expected to announce how they will be helping farmers, we also spoke about the transportation and processing help that is needed to provide relief to the dairy industry.
The $2 trillion dollar stimulus package known as the care act includes a total of $23.5 billion dollars for the nation’s farmers.
“There’s $9.5 billion dollars that was designated for the USDA, so they do have some purchasing power at this moment from the cares act that I voted for,” explained Congressman Raul Ruiz, U.S. Representative of California’s 36th congressional district.
Tom Vilsack, President of The U.S. Dairy Export Council says it’s an issue of meeting supply and demand at the same point.
While Americans are buying milk at grocery stores, the demand isn’t there from restaurants and schools.
“Right now there is a misalignment, and normally you would be able to adjust, normally you would be able to take that excess supply and distribute it around the country. well, you got issues with transportation, you got an issue with people having the virus who are critically important to all of this,” said Vilsack.
State and local leaders now looking to the USDA for assistance.
“I wrote a letter to the USDA regarding this issue and they have informed me that they are going to provide guidance, not only on how to utilize the care’s money but also providing direct purchasing assistance where USDA can purchase the food and provide direct payments to help farmers who are taking an economic toll, and this includes dairy farmers,” said Ruiz
Details on direct payments to farmers could also be announced as soon as next week.
“We’ve got to figure out ways in which the USDA can act quickly to get those resources realigned. maybe it’s putting out a tanker of milk that’s refrigerated out to a food bank that doesn’t have refrigeration capacity, and maybe there’s a way of distributing from the tanker so you don’t have to worry about the fact that the food bank doesn’t have enough refrigeration capacity,” added Vilsack
And when it comes to specialty crops here in the Coachella Valley, an effort to help the local residents get access to local produce is underway.