- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced it will bail out the cheese industry once again with a purchase of $20 million of cheddar cheese, according to a news release.
- The agency will distribute the cheese to food banks and nutrition assistance programs.
- The USDA expects dairy prices to rebound for the duration of the year, but Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement that officials would "explore opportunities for further assistance in the coming months."
This is the USDA's second bailout of the cheese industry in three months. The first was $11.2 million in payments for farmers through the Dairy Margin Protection Program in August. These bailouts assist dairy farmers who are struggling with dumping massive milk surpluses while demand and prices remain at an unsustainable low.
USDA did say it expects dairy prices to rise again, but it likely won't be because of the bailout itself. The market needs to bounce back on its own, and it's unlikely one or even two USDA purchases will impact prices all that much.
While these efforts focus on farmers, manufacturers also have to ride the ebb and flow of the dairy industry in terms of pricing and availability. The USDA can work with farmers to create more products that utilize cheese, which can provide flavor, texture and health benefits to consumers while capitalizing on a low-cost ingredient supply.