WASHINGTON – The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making available additional assistance for dairy producers through a second round of the Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program payments and a new Organic Dairy Marketing Assistance Program (ODMAP).
USDA shared that the two programs will help it better support small- and medium-sized dairy operations that weathered the pandemic and continue to face challenges.
Ahead of the USDA’s action, Organic Valley worked within the Organic Trade Association (OTA), as well as with other players in the organic sector, to highlight what the cooperative described as a dire situation for organic livestock farmers.
"USDA and Congress were right in recognizing the unique challenges facing organic dairy farmers,” said Adam Warthesen, Organic Valley’s director of government and industry affairs, who also is an OTA board member. “We need all efforts to try and stem farm exits. The USDA's creation of a new Organic Dairy Marketing Assistance Program is a welcome relief, and the resources can't come soon enough."
USDA shared that the ODMAP will be administered by the department’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). USDA stated the program “is intended to help smaller organic dairy farms that have faced a unique set of challenges and higher costs over the past several years that have been compounded by the ongoing pandemic and drought conditions across the country.”
FSA will provide payments to cover portions of dairy farmers’ estimated marketing costs for 2023, with ODMAP allocated for up to $100 million in total. USDA stated that more details about funds available through the ODMAP will be released later this year.
Organic Valley added 84 farms to its cooperative in 2022.
"Our mission is more critical than ever as we see small family farms losing their market with little notice and facing inflationary pressures that make it harder for them to survive," said Travis Forgues, Organic Valley’s executive vice president of membership. "If you care about family farms, we need people to join us, support Organic Valley products in the marketplace, and put their milk money where their values are. We're committed to reversing the trend of farming consolidation by providing an organic marketplace for small family farmers. We're also working to increase aid to small organic family farms, calling on Congress and leadership across the country to take action."