December 31, 2018
Since October the US Department of Agriculture has been purchasing US-produced and -processed agricultural products including milk and pork under a "USDA Foods" programme, which has become a big boost to agricultural producers and processors.
In early December, for example, a new USDA Foods vendor delivered 2,000 gallons of fresh milk to the DC Capital Area Food Bank. The delivery was one of many taking place at food banks across the country resulting from purchases made by the USDA, providing market support to the dairy industry.
Dairy Maid, the milk processing company that delivered the milk and which is based in Frederick, Maryland, is one of 12 new vendors selling fluid milk to USDA.
The agency says it actually needs more vendors. By the end of fiscal year 2018, USDA purchased more than $20 million worth of milk and has been approved to purchase additional $10 million in 2019.
For pork products alone, purchases throughout the fiscal year will total up to $558.8 million, USDA said.
The USDA Foods programme encourages consumption of domestic agricultural products and provides nutritious domestic food to nutrition assistance programmes.
"To successfully supply nutrition programmes around the country with a perishable product like fluid milk, we need to find more of those local farmers who can make last mile deliveries", said USDA Undersecretary Greg Ibach.
In addition to these purchases, USDA is buying products under the Food Purchase and Distribution Programme to help farmers impacted by unfair trade practices. Commodities being purchased include pork, beef and fruits such as apples and blueberries.
USDA began issuing solicitations for the purchases in early October and expects to purchase other products throughout 2019.