Dairy farmers eligible for pandemic-related assistance

Friday, August 20, 2021, Vol. 45, No. 34

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Help is on the way for dairy farmers who got a lower price for their products because of pandemic-related market abnormalities, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday.

The department will provide about $350 million in assistance payments to eligible farmers, it said.

"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," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a written statement while in Vermont. "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."

Qualified dairy farmers will get payments for 80% of the revenue difference per month based on an annual production of up to 5 million pounds of milk marketed and on fluid milk sales from July through December 2020, the department said.

USDA will make payments through agreements with handlers and cooperatives, which will distribute the funds.