Florida Congressional Delegation Goes to Bat for Dairy Farmers Across the Sunshine State

Two congressional representatives from North Florida–U.S. Reps. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., and Al Lawson, D-Fla.–led members of the Sunshine State’s delegation in sending a letter to U.S. Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack pointing out “inequities facing Florida dairies under the current Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) as they recover from market disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Cammack’s office offered some of the reasons why she and Lawson led the letter which was signed by more than 15 other members of the Florida delegation.

“The letter, which explains that Florida’s dairies cannot truly recover from the unprecedented losses sustained over the last year and a half, highlights the failures of the Class I mover, which ultimately resulted in Florida’s dairy farmers dumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of fluid milk during the pandemic. Florida dairy producers incurred losses upwards of $35 billion from January 2020 through February 2021. The Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program (PMVAP) intended to compensate producers for lost products, however, has not equitably assisted Florida producers who primarily produce perishable fluid products with short shelf lives,” Cammack’s office noted.

“The pandemic shuttered businesses, schools, and supply chains that relied heavily on Florida dairies, forcing milk producers to waste valuable gallons,” said Cammack on Monday. “Our state predominantly is home to Class I producers—those producing milk, instead of cheese, yogurt, butter, or powder—and should not be limited to reimbursement under PMVAP based on size or volume. As members of the House Agriculture Committee, Congressman Lawson and I will not stop in leading the effort to ensure Florida’s dairy farmers recover from these losses.”

“The dairy industry has been vital to our local economies, and it is of the utmost importance that we support our hardworking farmers,” said Lawson. “The existing rules and regulations under PMVAP create an undue burden on our Florida dairy farmers. We cannot afford to waste additional resources in this critical time of economic recovery, and I am committed to fighting for the hardworking farmers existing legislation has left behind.”

Reps. Cammack and Lawson will continue to address the ongoing issues with the Class I mover formula to ensure equity for Florida producers moving forward.

Florida Republican U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Mario Diaz-Balart, Byron Donalds, Neal Dunn, Scott Franklin, Carolos Gimenez, Bill Posey, John Rutherford, Maria Elvira Salazart, Grege Steube and Michael Watlz and Florida Democrats U.S. Reps Charlie Crist, Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Stephanie Murphy, Darren Soto, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson signed the letter.

KEVIN DERBY
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