U.S.D.A. transfers dry milk stocks to feeding programs

by Ron Sterk
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture will transfer approximately 200 million lbs of nonfat dry milk (N.D.M.) held by the Commodity Credit Corp. to the U.S.D.A.’s Food and Nutrition Service for use in domestic feeding programs, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said late last week.

The U.S.D.A. action was applauded by the International Dairy Foods Association, which represents dairy manufacturing and marketing industries and suppliers.

"We salute this effort to provide the needy with greater access to healthy dairy products while minimizing taxpayers’ costs and supporting new demand that will help sustain jobs in the dairy industry," said Jerry Slominski, I.D.F.A. senior vice-president of legislative and economic policy.

The N.D.M. was acquired by the C.C.C. under the U.S.D.A.’s Dairy Product Price Support Program at 80c a lb. Purchases since Oct. 1, 2008, through April 2 have totaled more than 209 million lbs, all of which still is held by the C.C.C.

Under the transfer program, product should move through the supply chain starting this spring and continuing through 2009, the U.S.D.A. said.

"President Obama understands that providing food to those in need will help many weather these tough economic times," Mr. Vilsack said. "At the same time, U.S.D.A.’s disposal plan will benefit dairy farmers, who have seen markets disappear and prices plummet in recent months, by increasing consumption of milk and other dairy products."

The U.S.D.A. will make the N.D.M. available for further processing or barter and is expected to include items such as instantized N.D.M., ultra high temperature milk, cheese and soups for domestic feeding programs, the department said.

"We’re pleased to see that of the 200 million lbs of N.D.M. the department plans to transfer to feeding programs, one quarter will be bartered for reduced fat and lite cheeses to be used in the National School Lunch Program and food banks," Mr. Slominski said. "We look forward to working with the U.S.D.A. on the implementation of these steps."

The U.S.D.A. administers 15 domestic nutrition programs that affect one in five people in the U.S. daily.

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