Dairy organizations in Wisconsin say the U.S. Department of Agriculture hasn't done enough to help dairy farmers suffering from the effects of increased tariffs.
The National Milk Producers Federation sent a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue this week saying the agency’s new program to help farmers impacted by retaliatory tariffs, called the Market Facilitation Program, has done little to compensate for lost sales and lower milk prices.
The USDA announced last month it would pay dairy farmers 12 cents per hundredweight, or 100 pounds of milk, on half of this year’s production. The agency estimates that will equal about $127 million in direct payments to farmers.
But the National Milk Producers Federation points to a USDA estimate that increased tariffs have caused 2018 prices to drop 70 cents per hundredweight, a decline that will amount to more than $1 billion in lost income for dairy farmers this year.
"When you're comparing what's been done and what the impact has been, that's why we’re continuing to work and tell the administration that we need to do something there, because dairy farmers are really being adversely affected," said Jeff Lyon, general manager of the FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative, which is a NMPF member and based in Madison.
Read more from Wisconsin Public Radio.