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NMPF Heralds New Dairy Donation Program to Fight Food Insecurity

October 5, 2021

NMPF lauded USDA for finalizing rules implementing the new Dairy Donation Program, which set implementation into motion in September. The program will help expand partnerships between dairy organizations and food banks to provide a wide range of dairy products to food-insecure households.

The Dairy Donation Program, enacted by Congress last December as part of COVID pandemic-related legislation, builds on the original Milk Donation Reimbursement Program. It has one-time funding of $400 million to reimburse farmers, cooperatives, and other dairy organizations for the full cost of raw milk needed to make finished dairy products for consumers. Following its enactment, NMPF worked closely with USDA to ensure that the program addresses additional costs, such as processing and transportation, to make the new program more viable. The provision covering the cost of processing is a significant enhancement from the previous program.

“We thank USDA leadership for their work to bring the Dairy Donation Program to fruition. This important program will help dairy farmers and the cooperatives they own to do what they do best: feed families nationwide,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “Dairy stakeholders are eager to enhance their partnerships with food banks and other distributors to provide dairy products to those experiencing food insecurity, which the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated.”

NMPF championed the proposal throughout the legislative process and worked closely with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), who led the effort to include this new program in COVID-19-related legislation enacted last year. Mulhern said NMPF appreciates Chairwoman Stabenow’s leadership in securing the program’s enactment and lauded the support for dairy donation offered by other key members, including Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA).

NMPF also worked closely with Feeding America to support the program and recommend approaches to ensure its effectiveness. NMPF hosted a webinar on September 16 with Feeding America and USDA to educate dairy stakeholders about the program.

“We have also been pleased to work with Feeding America to advance the partnership approach taken by this program as it will help to target dairy donations in a manner that effectively meets on-the-ground demand,” Mulhern said.