Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says that approximately $60-million in cheese and cheese products will be purchased by the Commodity Credit Corporation for use in domestic feeding programs through USDA's Food and Nutrition Service. USDA is expediting this cheese purchase to help provide much-needed support for low-income families struggling to put nutritious food on their tables, and to deliver timely assistance to dairy farmers who have been challenged by high feed costs and low dairy prices.
"This purchase will provide food to people in need, while helping dairy producers who are facing economic challenges by increasing demand for dairy products," Vilsack said. "This aid comes at a time when demand on the nation's food banks has reached an all-time high. The USDA cheese purchase is part of a broad effort to address that urgent problem by providing ongoing support for those organizations across America struggling to meet demand every day."
Milk prices declined substantially through early-to-mid-2009, with the national price for milk averaging $16.80 per hundredweight in the fourth quarter of 2008 and averaging $12.23 per cwt. in the first quarter of 2009, a 27% decline. On average, the price U.S. dairy producers received for milk marketed in the summer of 2009 was about half of what it cost them to produce milk.
"USDA is committed to helping dairy producers weather current challenges in the market, and this cheese purchase serves as one more example in a long line of USDA efforts this year to provide support," said Jim Miller, Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services.