C.C.C. to buy $60 million in cheese products

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on Dec. 18 said the Commodity Credit Corp. (C.C.C.) will purchase approximately $60 million in cheese and cheese products for use in domestic feeding programs through the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. According to the U.S.D.A., the effort is being expedited to help provide support for low-income families and to deliver timely assistance to dairy farmers who have been challenged by high feed costs and low dairy prices.

“This purchase will provide food to people in need, while helping dairy producers who are facing economic challenges by increasing demand for dairy products,” Mr. Vilsack said. “The Obama administration continues to lend assistance in any way we can to support struggling agricultural industries.”

The 2010 Agricultural Appropriations Act authorized $60 million for the purchase of cheese and cheese products, and the latest purchase marks the second of two steps announced by the U.S.D.A. in recent weeks to utilize a total of $350 million authorized under the Act. On Dec. 17, Mr. Vilsack announced the Dairy Economic Loss Assistance Payment Program, which provides $290 million for one-time payments to eligible dairy producers.

Other efforts taken by the U.S.D.A. during 2009 to provide relief to U.S. dairy farmers include:

• The U.S.D.A. spent approximately $1 billion in fiscal year 2009 on purchases of dairy products under the Dairy Price Support Program and payments to producers under the Milk Income Loss Contract.

• The U.S.D.A. reactivated the Dairy Export Incentive Program to help U.S. dairy exporters meet prevailing world prices in addition to encouraging the development of international export markets in areas where U.S. dairy products are not competitive due to subsidized dairy products from other countries.

• The U.S.D.A. increased the amount paid for dairy products through the Dairy Product Price Support Program.

• In March, the U.S.D.A. transferred approximately 200 million lbs of nonfat dry milk to the U.S.D.A.’s Food and Nutrition Service, which not only removed surplus inventory from the market, but also supported low-income families struggling to put nutritious food on their tables.

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