Dairy farms that experienced financial losses due to discarded or displaced milk during the COVID-19 emergency disaster may apply for federal funds, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Tuesday.
The state will disburse $40 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to support Pennsylvania’s dairy industry and food security programs following months of uncertainty and loss from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Each farm with a documented loss will receive a minimum of $1,500 and an additional prorated share of the remaining funds, not to exceed the actual amount assessed by the handler. The deadline to apply for the Dairy Indemnity Program is Sept. 30, 2020. A link to the application can be found at https://bit.ly/2Bgyzy5.
Berks County is one of the top three dairy counties in Pennsylvania, according to the 2017 agriculture census.
“Pennsylvania’s agricultural industry represents the very best of who we are — something that’s been seen since the very beginning of our COVID-19 mitigation efforts,” Wolf said. “That’s why it’s critical that we open these programs to support Pennsylvania’s farmers today. This CARES funding is going to an industry that gives back every day to ensure that Pennsylvanians have access to fresh food.”
State Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said, “The industry understands that hunger should not be our next pandemic and took action. I’m grateful that the governor is ensuring that our farmers, and in particular our dairy farmers, receive much needed financial support.”
Specifically, $15 million will provide an opportunity for dairy farmers to receive direct relief payments and $5 million will reimburse dairy farmers who participate in the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System program by donating excess dairy product to the commonwealth’s charitable food system.
Also, $15 million will go to the State Food Purchase Program, which provides cash grants to counties for the purchase and distribution of food to low-income individuals, and $5 million will go to the PASS program to reimburse the agricultural industry for the costs involved in harvesting, processing, packaging and transporting food that they donate to the charitable food system.