A USDA program designed to buy and distribute almost $50 million in dairy products is overwhelming food pantries in Iowa and Illinois. An Associated Press article says River Bend Foodbank CEO Mike Miller says about 80,000 half-gallons of milk will be sent to food banks across the Quad City (Iowa) region through March.
The large rise in milk donations comes from a USDA program designed to help dairy farmers caught in the middle of a trade dispute between the U.S. and several key trading partners. Retaliatory tariffs have cost American dairy farmers more than $1 billion since May.
The USDA is buying the milk to help dairy farmers facing low milk prices and an oversupply of milk. The USDA is distributing the milk that would have been sold overseas to food banks across the country. “It’s certainly helpful to farmers who are hurt by tariffs placed on their products going into China,” Miller says. “It’s also a huge help to hungry people in our communities.”
He says it’s challenging because milk has such a short shelf life, so it has to move quickly. Some food banks also lack adequate storage for the large number of dairy donations and don’t have a large enough staff to help distribute the milk quickly.