TAYLOR, Wis. – A grassroots farmer cooperative organization is celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2021 with donations of 125,937 pounds of nonfat dry milk powder to help ease hunger around the world while creating upward pressure on the Class 4 milk market which has a recently increased role in the farm milk price received by its members.
Dairy Pricing Association (DPA), funded by voluntary dairy farmer milk paycheck deductions, purchased two semi-truckloads of milk powder in January for repackaging and distribution by Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) based in Berlin, OH for their programs in Haiti, Nicaragua, and Liberia, and one semi-truckload in March for Catholic Charities (CCUSA) based in Alexandria, VA and HEART in Shakopee, MN. The value of these powder donations totaled $147,478.
One year ago, as the pandemic hit and many dairy farmers were forced to dump milk, DPA stepped in to support the plummeting cheddar cheese market as it hit a market price of $1 per pound. Five semi-loads of 40-pound cheddar blocks totaling 205,585 pounds and valued at $238,867 were purchased by DPA in April 2020 and donated to CCUSA, Ruby’s Pantry in North Branch, MN, and Operation Food Search in St. Louis, MO for distribution in their extensive food pantry networks across the country. These purchases by DPA marked the beginning of the turnaround in the Class 3 milk market in 2020.
“It is truly amazing what we have been able to accomplish in the past decade as a group of less than 400 dairy farmers from 13 states. Just imagine the impact that would be possible if money already collected from the 30,000+ US dairy farmers for industry programs could be refocused in this way to ask a price for their production,” said Tom Olson, Wisconsin dairy farmer and DPA president. “We call it helping ourselves by helping others,” he said.
In addition to food pantries and soup kitchens, past DPA dairy product donations have been targeted to victims of natural disasters. Through March of 2021, DPA has cumulatively removed from the marketplace and donated the raw milk equivalent of nearly 10.5 million pounds.