A group of 15 senators are calling on USDA to reverse its decision to exclude dairy farmers from receiving COVID-19 relief to cover losses related to meat production.
While milk is the primary income for dairy farms, they often are diversified operations with significant revenue coming from the meat of cows as they are retired from milking. In the original Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), the USDA compensated dairy farmers and other livestock producers for losses related to meat produced from breeding animals. When USDA announced CFAP2, the second version of the relief program, USDA made a significant change to exclude those losses.
“This change will affect the livestock industry and will be particularly harmful to dairy farmers who often operate at extremely tight margins,” wrote the senators in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “The decision is even more troubling considering that USDA clearly has sufficient resources to cover these losses. Additionally, it is less complicated for both USDA and farmers to cover all livestock and avoid confusion about what animals are covered or excluded.”
“Considering the dairy industry’s traditionally tight margins, USDA’s decision to shift course and arbitrarily exclude dairy farm losses related to meat production is a significant blow,” the senators wrote. “We urge USDA to reverse this arbitrary decision and make breeding animals eligible for CFAP 2 like they were under the original relief program.”
Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, the most senior member of the committee, led the effort. They were joined by Sens, Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin; Robert Casey, D-Pennsylvania; Angus King, Independent-Maine; Bernie Sanders, Independent-Vermont; Ron Wyden, D-Oregon; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota; Patty Murray, D-Washington; Kristen Gillibrand, D-New York; Tina Smith, D-Minnesota; Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut; Charles Schumer, D-New York; Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, and Gary Peters, D-Michigan.
Download a copy of the letter by clicking the download button below.