Dairy farmers eligible for pandemic-related assistance

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Help is on the way for dairy farmers who got a lower price for their products because of pandemic-related market abnormalities, the U.S. Department of Agricullture said Thursday.

The department will provide about $350 million in assistance payments to eligible farmers, it said.

The effort is “to try and compensate a bit those farmers who suffered the loss of value because of the distortion of market during the pandemic,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said at a press conference in Vermont.

The majority of the resources will go to smaller farms, he said.

Qualified dairy farmers will get payments for 80% of the revenue difference per month based on an annual production of up to 5 million pounds of milk marketed and on fluid milk sales from July through December 2020, the department said.

“This targeted assistance is the first step in USDA’s comprehensive approach that will total over $2 billion to help the dairy industry recover from the pandemic and be more resilient to future challenges for generations to come,” Vilsack said in a written statement.

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