July 14, 2016

Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106

WASHINGTON (July 14, 2016) – As the U.S. dairy industry continues to face an extended period of low milk prices and challenges associated with cash flow, National Farmers Union (NFU), in conjunction with state Farmers Union divisions, has formed an emergency planning committee to address shortcomings in the current federal dairy program. The committee will work to build support for a stronger safety net and emergency assistance for U.S. dairy producers during this period of economic turmoil.

Earlier this year, NFU members passed a special order of business at the NFU 114th Anniversary Convention to establish the farmer-led committee.

“For several years, U.S. dairy farmers have been experiencing very low milk prices,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “If adequate support for dairy farmers is not provided, it will force thousands of family farms out of business. NFU is proud to give the nation’s dairy farmers a platform to advocate for a stronger safety net for the dairy industry.”

Dairy farmers across the country are all suffering, but smaller farms are feeling the pinch even more acutely. This results from larger farms earning substantially more in net returns per hundredweight than smaller farms. Larger operations have nearly 25 percent lower cost of production per hundredweight than farms with less than 1000 dairy cows, Johnson explained.

On top of higher production costs, farmers are also dealing with the Dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) that has not operated as intended. During the farm bill, Congress reduced the feed cost component of this margin, so the current formula no longer reflects the true cost of production.

“MPP is unable to provide meaningful relief for farmers during this extended period of low prices and surplus production. If the MPP margins had been $1 per hundredweight lower, more than 8,500 dairy farms would have received a benefit at a time when producers have needed it most,” he added.

“The United States has witnessed a loss of more than 18,000 dairy farms during the last decade. Through this committee, we will work with the dairy industry, Congress and the USDA to propose meaningful adjustments to the dairy safety net to improve the current state of the dairy economy,” Johnson concluded.

National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.


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