FarmFirst Co-Op To USDA: More Tariff Aid, Please
FarmFirst Cooperative, based in Madison, Wis., but representing dairy farmers in seven Midwest states, is again calling on USDA to provide more financial support as tariffs from Mexico and China continue to depress milk prices.
“We are disappointed in the small amount of assistance provided to dairy farmers in the dairy mitigation package, as it represents a fraction of the economic harm to dairy farmers,” says Jeff Lyon, General Manager of FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative, in a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.
Lyon notes that dairy farm losses in Wisconsin are particularly acute, hurting not only farm families but their rural communities. Through the first nine months of 2018, Wisconsin dairy farm numbers have declined 429, 40% higher than the average attrition rate for the same nine-month period over the past five years. “The trade disruption and related market price declines have greatly exacerbated those trends,” says Lyon.
The letter makes two requests: 1) USDA to make a second round of payments to dairy farmers yet this year, and 2) significantly increase the payment rate to more fully reflect actual market losses.
“Of course, our number one goal is to have trade restored and avoid any federal assistance at all,” says Lyon. “Until the retaliatory tariffs are suspended, dairy farmers will continue to suffer economic losses, which will continue to challenge many to stay in business.”