On July 28, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) — a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee — introduced legislation to create a loan program to provide relief to dairy processors who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic crisis, said the Washington, D.C.-based International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). Sen. Smith said the USDA-backed loan program would allow dairy processors, packagers, merchants, marketers, wholesalers and distributors to secure credit against their inventory, ensuring dairy processors have the working capital needed to make it through the pandemic.

“For years, the dairy industry in Minnesota and across the country has been reeling from low prices, trade disruptions and weather disasters. Now, to add insult to injury, the coronavirus pandemic has caused much of the dairy market to dry up," said Sen. Smith. “My legislation will help the dairy industry access the capital it needs to stay afloat during this uncertain time. I plan to keep pushing for relief for Minnesota agriculture.”

Language establishing a dairy recourse loan program was included in the House passed HEROES Act, IDFA noted.

IDFA President and CEO Michael Dykes, D.V.M., released a statement in support of the legislation:

“A dairy recourse loan would ensure all links in the dairy supply chain remain intact and have access to the working capital they need to keep operating and paying their bills amid the significant market volatility caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dykes said. “IDFA and our members are grateful to Sen. Smith for providing dairy food companies with the financial tools they need to continue processing milk, keep workers employed and keep Americans fed with nutritious dairy products.”