U.S. Dairy Farmers Face Market Shock Wave from COVID-19


(Ames, Iowa) April 1, 2020 — In some areas of the country, automobiles line up for more than a mile at food banks because Americans are experiencing rising unemployment levels caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Milk products stand among the most needed of staples.

Meanwhile, America’s dairymen and dairy women are suffering from dangerously declining prices on cash and futures markets. Some analysts say, without help, many dairy farmers will no longer remain in business by the end of summer.

“National Farmers is urging Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to take steps to mitigate the financial hardship on producers while increasing the availability of dairy products to food banks,” said National Farmers President Paul Olson.

In a letter to Secretary Perdue, Olson advocates resuming dairy farm enrollment into the Dairy Margin Coverage program. The risk management tool delivers additional dollars to dairy producers during periods of lower prices, which can help them stay in business.

To further help farmers, Olson also urges USDA to use the Section 32 Program, enabling the Commodity Credit Corporation to increase its purchase of dairy products, particularly cheese, to help both consumers and farmers.

“Just when dairy farmers thought the new year would deliver higher prices than those of the past five years, COVID-19 arrived and wreaked havoc on producers and they struggle to cope with deteriorating milk prices and falling food service consumption of their products,” Olson said. In short, the global pandemic has sent a market shock wave through agriculture.

“We believe now is the time to help dairy producers recover at least a portion of their losses from this unanticipated disaster, and, at the same time, help recently unemployed consumers who need dairy products,” Olson emphasized.

National Farmers markets milk, livestock and crops for thousands of American agricultural producers. We offer six decades of experience representing farmers and ranchers, and grouping production from many ag operations. We help producers market together. National Farmers’ experienced marketing professionals negotiate on conventional and certified organic farmers’ behalf in cash and contract sales, establishing commodity sales terms with the farmers’ interests in mind.

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