Proposed bill would authorize USDA to be matchmaker between milk producers, food banks

FILE- Photo cows are milked on a large carousel at Rosendale Dairy in Pickett, Wis. (AP...
FILE- Photo cows are milked on a large carousel at Rosendale Dairy in Pickett, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)(NBC15)
Published: May. 12, 2020 at 3:47 PM CDT
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has been proposed in Congress that would authorize the USDA to act as a matchmaker between dairy producers and food banks that can distribute milk to those in need.

The bill, called the "Farmer’s Milk in Low-Income Kitchens," or MILK for short, would not only seek to help those struggling with food insecurity amid the pandemic but help producers offload an excess of milk they have.

Already many milk producers have been forced to throw away milk due to a lack of buyers under the financial strain of the pandemic and affects of the trade war between the U.S. and China.

The bill's proponents argue that the USDA’s current Milk Donation program is not as efficient as it could be, as it requires dairy farmers to seek out food banks and apply for reimbursements to cover expenses.

The current Milk Donation program is authorized at a yearly budget of $5 million, and the MILK act would add another $4 million on top of that.

“Families across the country are unable to put food on the table and food banks are suffering shortages," said one of the bill's sponsors, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) in a statement Tuesday.

"We should be pairing up every dairy producer with excess supply with these food banks to feed families in need. No dairy farmer wants to throw away of milk, and this bill will make it easier for that excess milk to help those who are feeling the economic pain of this pandemic," Pocan said.

The bill has been endorsed by the National Milk Producers Federation, the International Dairy Foods Association and the Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative.

The bill is co-sponsored by Representatives Craig (MN), Fudge (OH), Hayes (CT), Jackson Lee (TX), Kind (WI), Kuster (NH), Lowenthal (CA), Moore (WI), Morelle (NY), Pingree (ME), Stefanik (NY), Mike Thompson (CA), Welch (VT)