The government plans to buy an additional $20 million worth of cheddar cheese in an effort to reduce surplus dairy products and help out U.S. dairy farmers, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced Tuesday.
The purchase will be the second of surplus cheese this fall. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) put in a plan to buy $20 million of cheese in August after congressional leaders and dairy groups urged the federal government to bail out farmers struggling with record low dairy prices. (RELATED: Government Buys $20 Million Of Cheese From Surplus Stockpiles)
With $20 million dollars, the government will be able to buy around 12.5 million pounds of cheddar. It costs about $1.60 per pound when purchased in 40-pound blocks, according to the Cheese Reporter.
Put another way, the U.S. government is buying enough cheese for 66.7 million grilled cheese sandwiches, assuming three generous one-ounce slices of America’s favorite orange deliciousness.
The USDA will distribute the cheese to food assistance programs like the National School Lunch program and food banks around the country.
Vilsack announced the cheese purchase while speaking at an event at the Westby Creamery in Wisconsin Tuesday.
“America’s farming families are being called on to demonstrate their world-famous resourcefulness and resilience in the face of this current market downturn, and USDA is making use of every tool that we have to help them,” Vilsack said.
In addition to the $20 million purchase in August, which included Mozzerella, American and others, the USDA announced it would pay an extra $11 million in the Margin Protection Program, which offers subsidies when milk prices drop to a certain percentage.
“For dairy farmers, this has included $11.2 million in payments in August through the Dairy Margin Protection Program, in addition to the surplus purchase offers. While our analysis predicts the market will improve for these hardworking men and women, reducing the surplus can give them extra reassurance while also filling demand at food banks and other organizations that help our nation’s families in need.”
Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin praised Vilsack’s additional aid to dairy farmers.
“Keeping our Grown in Wisconsin economy strong means ensuring our rural communities and farms make it through this challenging time for the dairy industry. Today’s announcement in Wisconsin is a positive step forward,” Baldwin said in a statement Tuesday. “I will continue to work with dairy farmers to update and improve the dairy safety net so that it works for Wisconsin.”
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