South Ga. congressman speaks on what Congress is doing to help dairy farmers, rising cost of milk

South Ga. congressman speaks on what Congress is doing to help dairy farmers, rising cost of milk
Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 3:01 PM EST
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Diary products are a huge part of many Americans’ diets. But rising costs for milk and other dairy products has caused dairy farmers’ margins to be cut. WALB’s Jim Wallace sat down with U.S. Representative Sanford Bishop, who represents southwest Georgia, to see how he is trying to help Georgia’s dairy industry.

He has, under his leadership, got the Department of Agriculture to give help to dairy farmers across the country, including in South Georgia. Congressman, tell us about this help and why it is so important.

“Well, first off, let me just say that COVID-19, the pandemic, affected people all over the country. Supply chain, all sectors of the economy, including our dairy producers. And of course in Georgia, middle and southwest Georgia particularly, we have dairy producers that really produce in excess of $134 million in sales every year,” Congressman Sanford Bishop said. “The pandemic impacted that tremendously. And of course, it impacted the grocery stores, and the availability of food, particularly dairy products for the public. So USDA responded very quickly. They purchased and distributed agricultural products through the Farmers Family Food Box Program. Of course, we were all very happy to see that. But that had an unexpected negative impact on our dairy producers. Because it was heavily weighted, the price of milk was heavily weighted toward cheese. Because cheese was easier to transport. So fluid milk sales, which really has a lot to do with the formula for milk pricing, suffered. Just this week, the secretary (of agriculture) announced that they were going to have an additional program that would allow those producers between 5 million pounds and 9 million pounds to participate in the program. Which would be a big economic relief to them. Would ensure that our dairy farmers would be able to survive, and continue to produce some of the highest quality milk anywhere in the country. They’ve had tremendous skyrocketing of their input costs. Shrinking margins for the dairy producers, and this would be a big, big help for them. And I’m happy we’re in a position to work with the secretary to make it happen.”