USDA Announces Plans To Buy $20M Of Country’s Surplus Cheddar Cheese

Image courtesy of ShardsOfBlue

Having an excess of cheese on your hands might sound like a dairy lover’s dream come true, but when an entire nation has a surplus of the stuff, things get a lot trickier.

After announcing in August that it would buy the surplus cheese and distribute it to food pantries and others in need, the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed that it’s offering to buy $20 million worth of cheddar cheese to reduce a private cheese surplus that’s hit record levels.

The cheese will be directed to food banks and other food assistance recipients, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today after a roundtable discussion with dairy producers near La Crosse, WI.

We can blame some of our problems on our European friends: the European Union’s dairy export business has been climbing so far this year and last, which means U.S. exports are down. Dairy revenues have dropped 35% over the past two years, the USDA says.

Section 32 of the Agriculture Act of 1935 authorizes USDA to purchase surplus food to benefit food banks and families in need through its nutrition assistance programs.

“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,” said Vilsack.

Vilsack predicts that the cheese market is expected to improve, but in the meantime, reducing the surplus will give dairy farmers extra reassurance, while in turn helping those in need.

The USDA will issue a solicitation shortly, with cheese deliveries to food banks and other food assistance recipients expected to start in March 2017.

I think we can all agree that this is a lot better than committing [shudder] outright fromagicide.

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