The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) applauds the decision announced today by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to transfer government inventories of nonfat dry milk to federal feeding programs. This action will provide a wider variety of nutritional foods to families struggling to make ends meet in today's economy and give a much-needed boost to dairy farmers hit hard by high feed costs.

"We salute this effort to provide the needy with greater access to healthy dairy products while minimizing taxpayers' costs and supporting new demand that will help sustain jobs in the dairy industry," said Jerry Slominski, IDFA senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy. 

In a letter to Secretary Vilsack earlier this year, IDFA recommended a three-point plan that would help needy families and farmers, including exchanging the U.S. Department of Agriculture's bulk dairy inventory for consumer-ready dairy products. IDFA suggested that food companies could bid to accept the bulk nonfat dry milk and convert it to products that are in demand and easy to use in feeding programs.

"We're pleased to see that of the 200 million pounds of nonfat dry milk the department plans to transfer to feeding programs, one-quarter will be bartered for reduced fat and light cheeses to be used in the National School Lunch Program and food banks," Slominski said. "We look forward to working with USDA on the implementation of these steps and future solutions that will support the dairy industry and ultimately U.S. consumers."