The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Thursday that it is making changes to improve the COVID-19 pandemic aid for dairy farms through the Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program. The program includes about $350 million which will be given to dairy farmers who sold goods at a lower value due to market changes brought about by the pandemic.
According to the press release, the USDA and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) toured dairy farms and met with farmers leading them to develop the program, Leahy discussed the issues with the Senate Appropriations Committee. The program includes about $350 million which will be given to dairy farmers who sold goods at a lower value due to market changes brought about by the pandemic.
“The Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program is another component of our ongoing effort to get aid to producers who have been left behind and build on our progress towards economic recovery,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Family dairy farmers have been battered by the pandemic, trade issues and unpredictable weather and are the life-blood of many rural communities throughout Vermont, the Northeast and many other regions. This targeted assistance is the first step in USDA’s comprehensive approach that will total over $2 billion to help the dairy industry recover from the pandemic and be more resilient to future challenges for generations to come.”
Through the program, dairy farmers can receive a reimbursement of up to 80% of the loss they had on sales, the rate for payments will be “based on the actual losses on pooled milk related to price volatility,” the press release said.
Eligible dairy businesses will be notified by the USDA, and after an agreement is reached they will receive funding within 60 days. Funds for the program come from the $6 billion allotted to the USDA which was announced in March.
In the release, the USDA also announced that it plans to update the feed cost formula to reflect actual alfalfa prices and improve the Dairy Margin Coverage safety net program. Unlike the pandemic assistance aid, this will be a change that will address a permanent safety net for dairy farmers.