Ag Chat with Scott Schultz- May 2
A Wisconsin agriculture organization is working with the state's dairy-promotion organization to raise money to help nonprofit organizations dealing with coronavirus-related food issues. The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Rural Mutual Insurance Company and Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin are partnering with the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to establish the Wisconsin Food and Farm Support Fund. It will continue efforts across the state to get dairy products into consumers' hands and onto food-pantry shelves. Assistance to farmers for some equipment, seeds and fertilizers also will be available through the partnership. Since Wisconsin's Safer at Home order was put into place, community organizations, farmers and processors have donated more than 10 million pounds of dairy products, on a milk-equivalency basis. That represents 1.2 million gallons of milk.
The state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection also is partnering with the Wisconsin Pork Association to connect state pork producers with local meat processors and consumers. The Passion for Pork Program is working with local meat processors that are extending hours of operation to meet processing needs for farmers, and to help get that meat into consumers' hands, and to assist in getting it to food banks.
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators, including Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin, is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to target small farmers with the new Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. The program is designed to direct assistance to local food producers, but USDA officials haven't announced details about how it might target to local farmers. In a letter to agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue, the senators asked the USDA to assure it takes steps to reach local farmers with assistance as part of that program.
The chief executive officer of the National Milk Producers Federation says more federal help will be needed for the American dairy industry. The federation's Jim Mulhern wrote late last week that, though the federal help is welcomed by the industry, the federation's leadership is working with Congress to determine what other federal assistance will help the industry during the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has caused problems in the food chain which last month resulted in some American dairy farmers being asked to dump their milk.