The partner organizations, which represent farmers and dairy businesses in Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest, advocated for the purchases as part of the federal government’s response to the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The dairy products were among $1.2bn in contracts for distributors, processors and non-profit organizations to deliver food that also included produce, pork and chicken directly to people in need due to school closures and job losses.
Under the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, the items will be packaged in family-size boxes for distribution at pickup sites starting as early as this week.
The organizations said, “Our dairy farmers and processors are pleased to see the USDA getting dairy products to those who have suddenly found themselves without enough food for their families. This action also helps offset the collapse of the foodservice market by redirecting the milk, cheese, butter and yogurt that typically goes to schools and restaurants to the surging food aid efforts. People in need will benefit and our farmers will benefit.
“We applaud the USDA for answering the call from our members, those of other Midwest dairy groups and nonprofit organizations by connecting food producers with people most in need through this innovative and unprecedented program.
Farmers have always had an essential mission — to keep people in our communities, nation and world healthy and strong. Despite their own hardships during this crisis, farmers continue this mission every day. We look forward to seeing the Farmers to Families Food Box Program in action.”