April 14, 2020
Dear Mr. Secretary:
We, the undersigned members of the Wisconsin State Legislature, urge immediate action by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to use the extensive purchasing power afforded it via the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to bring urgently-needed relief to the stressed Wisconsin dairy industry.
Wisconsin dairy farmers are in crisis. On April 1, 2020 the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) as well as Wisconsin farm groups representing the full spectrum of Wisconsin agriculture communicated with your office requesting immediate action from USDA to move aid to states. This action is authorized under the CARES Act and includes a $9.5 billion allocation dedicated to disaster relief aid for agriculture. This relief is needed immediately in Wisconsin to ensure continued viability of our vast dairy resources. The CARES Act provides unprecedented support for farmers. We need USDA to bring these forms of aid to bear directly.
While our dairy farmers continue to innovate, collaborate and communicate with other farmers and dairy processors, circumstances beyond their control have now resulted fresh farm milk, with no available market for processing, to be dumped in open fields and manure pits across our state. Milk prices have plummeted and will result in significantly lower milk prices - lower than many farms can handle – endangering our famers’ long-term viability.
Thank you for your prompt action to address needs expressed in the letters dated 1 April 2020 and release $9.5 billion in CARES Act disaster aid that will serve as a lifeline to dairy farmers across the country and especially in America’s Dairyland, Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Legislature stands with Dairy and we are ready to support and assist you in expediting aid programs.