Ernst Urges Support for Iowa’s Dairy Farmers, Stability in Food Supply

U. S. Senator Joni Ernst

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy, continues to fight for relief for Iowa agriculture, now calling for support and relief for Iowa’s dairy farmers.

In a bipartisan letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Ernst writes: “While few sectors of the economy have been spared from the economic impacts of the heroic efforts of Americans to contain the spread of the coronavirus, perhaps none have experienced the loss of markets to the degree of the U.S. dairy industry.  For example, products typically sold to dine-in restaurants, that nearly all have closed due to social distancing requirements, are backing up in warehouses and much of the farm milk used to make those products no longer has a market.”

The Iowa senator, and her Democratic and Republican colleagues, go onto say: “Farm milk prices are on the verge of collapse due to this shift in consumer demand…In this case assistance for the dairy industry adds up to both help for farmers and nutritious food for the entire country.  Support for Americans suddenly in need of food assistance is a national priority at this time of need. And economic stability for the dairy industry will help ensure that a stable and abundant food supply is available to the public at reasonable prices now and long into the future.” 

 Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Ernst has made it a priority to continue listening to and hearing from Iowans across the state, including farmers and producers with Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, and many more.

Since helping secure critical provisions for Iowa agriculture in the bipartisan Phase 3 relief package, Ernst has called on the USDA to provide immediate assistance to cattle producers. In addition, Ernst urged USDA to get additional relief to the biofuels industry through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) – which was bolstered by the bipartisan Phase 3 relief package. And just yesterday, the Iowa senator called for the Small Business Administration (SBA) to ensure Iowa’s farmers, producers, ranchers, and growers have access to the relief they need during COVID-19.

The letter reads:

Dear Secretary Perdue:
We thank you for the tremendous amount of time and effort you and the entire team at the U.S.
Department of Agriculture are bringing to the policy table so that farmers can survive and
Americans can keep food on their kitchen table. Our farmers and ranchers are doing their part to
help the nation navigate the effort to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. Your work is providing
valuable assistance in that partnership you so often refer to in your motto to “Do Right and Feed
Everyone.”
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress and
signed into law on March 27th
includes several provisions for assistance to agriculture. While
few sectors of the economy have been spared from the economic impacts of the heroic efforts of
Americans to contain the spread of the coronavirus, perhaps none have experienced the loss of
markets to the degree of the U.S. dairy industry. For example, products typically sold to dine-in
restaurants, that nearly all have closed due to social distancing requirements, are backing up in
warehouses and much of the farm milk used to make those products no longer has a market.
Farm milk prices are on the verge of collapse due to this shift in consumer demand. Dairy
producers who, just a few weeks ago were looking at the prospect of the first promising year in
more than five, are now in the most economic difficulty in memory.
In this case assistance for the dairy industry adds up to both help for farmers and nutritious food
for the entire country. Support for Americans suddenly in need of food assistance is a national
priority at this time of need. Economic stability for the dairy industry will help ensure that a
stable and abundant food supply is available to the public at reasonable prices now and long into
the future.
The Congress provided several ways in the CARES Act to help the dairy industry. We urge you
to develop strong measures to help mitigate the current market upheaval so that the dairy
industry can survive this crisis.

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