Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), gave video comments on March 22 to the USDA on a food purchase and distribution program to succeed the Farmers to Families Food Box Program created in 2020. In the three minutes allotted to him, Dykes advocated for dairy products to remain a primary component of USDA’s food purchase program for their unparalleled health benefits, Washington, D.C.-based IDFA said, and he provided recommendations to the department on crafting a program that does not distort dairy markets.

“Dairy products were a key part of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program and should remain a primary component of the new USDA food distribution program, given dairy’s unparalleled health and consumer benefits to people of all ages,” said Dykes.

Dykes noted that dairy is one of the core elements of the healthy dietary patterns recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). He said dairy is a unique and nutritionally dense food group that is under-consumed by 90% of Americans, and that dairy provides 11 essential nutrients, including protein, vitamin A, niacin, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and iodine and three of the four under-consumed nutrients of concern in the DGA: calcium, vitamin D, and potassium.

IDFA said Dykes also provided recommendations to USDA to ensure dairy markets are not distorted by the government purchase program.

“IDFA also recommends that USDA include a wide variety of dairy products from among all classes of milk in the new program,” he said “Providing different types of dairy products will broaden the appeal of the program to more Americans with different tastes and palates. In addition, requiring diversity in dairy products would minimize the likelihood of market distortion going forward because a broader swath of products will be purchased instead of those in just one or two segments.”

Finally, Dykes urged USDA to spread out dairy purchases over the expected life of the new program. “Balancing the timing of dairy product purchases over the duration of the program will minimize spikes in the dairy futures markets that inevitably lead to increased market volatility,” he said.

The full transcript of Dykes’s remarks can be found here.