Reps. Elise Stefanik and Anthony Brindisi on Tuesday released a letter to federal agriculture officials urging them to provide support for New York dairy farms amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Farms are struggling nationwide as direct markets like restaurants and schools have shuttered over the last month and individual consumer spending has not made up the difference.
The lawmakers are seeking direct payments and reimbursements for milk that has been dumped in order to provide direct relief to producers.
“Our dairy farmers are facing an unprecedented crisis that comes after years of low milk prices” Stefanik said. “I have had conversations with many producers in my district and understand their urgent need for relief. I am proud to be co-leading this effort, along with Congressman Brindisi, to urge USDA to immediately provide financial relief to our farmers and make purchases to give our communities better access to dairy products. The dairy industry is very important to upstate New York and it is crucial that we continue to support them, an essential industry, who is working tirelessly to keep our grocery stores stocked during this unprecedented time.”
The letter released by Stefanik, a Republican, and Brindisi, a Democrat, reflect the deep issues surrounding agriculture amid the economic downturn due to the virus and the problems facing the industry. New York is one of the top dairy producing states in the country alongside California and Wisconsin.
“As Members of New York’s Congressional Delegation, we represent a robust community of dairy farmers who have lost direct markets due to the COVID-19 pandemic," Brindisi said. “Farmers across the country have suffered tremendous loss, and New York is no exception. We are writing to request that swift action be taken, including direct financial assistance, by the administration and USDA in order to provide relief to our dairy farmers and other parts of the dairy supply chain.”