March 26, 2009

Idaho Delegation Welcomes Use Of Dairy Products In Nutrition Programs

Washington, DC - Idaho's Congressional Delegation lauded a plan announced by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack today to utilize approximately 200 million pounds of nonfat dry milk for nutrition programs and assist the dairy industry to withstand current challenges with decreased dairy prices and high input costs.

In February, Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and Representatives Mike Simpson and Walt Minnick wrote U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to urge assistance for the Idaho dairy industry through enhanced utilization of existing federal programs. The delegation cited the importance of Idaho's dairy industry to the economy and expressed a need to review existing programs to ensure they are best utilized or improved to enable dairy producers and processors to endure the difficulty the industry is facing and maintain needed jobs.

"I commend the Administration for taking steps to enhance nutrition programs and assist the dairy industry, which is under significant pressure," said Senator Mike Crapo, who helped draft the past two Farm Bills as a member of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees. "I look forward to working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), dairy producers and processors, and nutrition assistance organizations to ensure the best utilization of USDA programs for the benefit of both the dairy industry and nutrition program recipients."

"I appreciate Secretary Vilsack's initial response for dairy industry relief. Providing healthy dairy products to low-income families is very helpful to those families and to Idaho dairy farmers. I urge the Secretary to continue moving forward on our other recommendations, which will help stabilize dairy prices," said Risch.

"I am pleased Secretary Vilsack and the Obama Administration have heard our calls to assist the dairy industry by expanding these important nutrition programs," said Congressman Mike Simpson. "The Idaho Congressional Delegation will stay in close contact throughout the implementation of this announcement and explore other opportunities that might improve the agriculture economy in general, and the dairy industry specifically."

"Secretary Vilsack's response to calls for action from the Idaho delegation resulted in the kind of win-win scenario people want to see more of from their federal government," said Congressman Walt Minnick, a member of the House Agriculture Committee. "The dairy industry got relief from high costs and nutrition programs received a valuable boost. I'm pleased to see such a quick response, and a response that will help Idaho."