According to Florida Representatives Kat Cammack and Al Lawson, the Florida dairy industry lost $35 billion dollars from Jan. 2020 to Feb. 2021.
“This is quite a blow, quite a blow to the industry,” said Lussier Dairy Farm Owner, Matthew Lussier.
Both members serve on the House Agriculture Committee and said there’s a disparity for Florida dairy farmers who seek COVID-19 financial relief through the federal Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance program, or PMVA. Cammack said the funds available for farmers shouldn’t be restricted based on size or volume of production.
“While other dairies across the country have received help in getting over that hump from covid, our dairies were pretty much cut out and it was because we’re unique class one market,” said Cammack.
Most Florida dairy farmers produce class one dairy which covers milk, rather than cheeses, yogurts or butter. Lussier’s dairy farm is based in Hawthorne and he said their family-run farm lost a quarter of a million dollars due to the pandemic.
“This was an economic problem that was really not a Republican problem, it wasn’t a Democrat problem,” mentioned Lussier. “The pandemic wasn’t, shouldn’t have been political. It’s just something that happened to the country and the country has to work together to get through.”
Lawson and Cammack seek a solution with the USDA to change the pricing formula for milk producers to compensate those farmers for milk dumped during the pandemic.
“We was in a conference yesterday with the USDA making sure Secretary Vilsack understand and pays more attention to Florida and so we have the hammer on him,” said Lawson.
The short-term solution Representatives are working on for farmers is to expand federal aid in the form of PMVA funds.