Legislators Push for Dairy Industry Bailout
Milk sales plummet as the vegan milk market explodes—and some members of Congress want taxpayers to pay for farmers’ losses.
August 10, 2016
With United States milk prices at historic lows, a bipartisan congressional contingent is urging Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to bail out the dairy industry with emergency financial assistance. In a letter, they wrote, “We encourage USDA to take any and all actions available in order to make an immediate market injection and offer financial assistance that will directly support US dairy farmers equally, while being cautious to not stimulate overproduction further.” Due mostly to milk overproduction that greatly exceeds consumer demand, farmers now get paid approximately 40 percent less than they did in 2014. Meanwhile, the global market for non-dairy milk products is expected to grow 15.5 percent (from $8.2 billion in 2014 to $19.5 billion by 2020). But the government gave the US dairy industry $5.6 billion in subsidies between 1995 and 2014, so Secretary Vilsack is expected to follow that precedent. In an email, a USDA spokesperson wrote that it “will do everything we can within our authorities to make sure our dairy producers have a strong, effective safety net, in addition to expanded market opportunities domestically and abroad.”