Dairy processors have made some recommendations to the new Agriculture Secretary on ways to improve government feeding programs and increase demand for dairy products. The international Dairy Foods Association’s (IDFA), Peggy Armstrong, said in Wednesday’s “Processor Perspective” that, “With the recent steep drop in farm-level milk prices, dairy producers are beginning to feel the full impact of the global recession and, while it’s likely that the support programs under last year’s Farm Bill will be triggered, they may not be enough to balance supply and demand.”
Historically, many surplus dairy products bought by the government go into storage or wind up competing with other commercial products, Armstrong charged, which can drive prices even lower.
“IDFA sees another way,” Armstrong said, and, in a letter to Secretary Tom Vilsack, IDFA President and CEO Connie Tipton asked USDA to take a careful look at what it can do to bolster dairy demand in ways that will increase access to healthy dairy products for a growing number of needy people, outlining a three-point plan.
IDFA urged USDA to convert any surplus into consumer-oriented dairy products, using dollars that otherwise would be spent on transportation and storage. Updating specifications for products purchased under the Dairy Price Support Program to reflect current commercial practices would make it easier for companies sell products to the government under this program, she said.
Currently most dairy products aren’t purchased under the price support program. So, as a second step IDFA recommends “stimulus purchases” of products such as yogurt, and additional funding for reduced-fat and lower-fat cheeses that can be used in schools and other institutions.
Thirdly, IDFA encourages USDA to finalize the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children rule to include yogurt, which was recommended by the Institute of Medicine, according to Armstrong.
“We believe this approach creates a better safety net for farm prices, and gets more products moving to consumers, many of whom are losing jobs and depending on food assistance to feed their families,” she concluded.
On December 18, 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency published a final rule that exempted animal waste from emissions reporting under certain EPA regulations. In this same rule, however, the EPA determined that another type of reporting is still required and the effective date for this rule is January 20.
There’s a lot of confusion over what EPA is going to require of dairy farmers and there have been threats of lawsuits from environmental groups and from the dairy industry over this rule. Want more dairy news? Click Here