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Impact of Government Buying $20 Million of Cheese

AAEA Expert Says Move Will Benefit Farmers and Families

In a move United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack calls a “robust, comprehensive safety net,” the U.S. Depart of Agriculture will purchase nearly 11 million pounds of cheese.

That cheese, valued at $20 million, is part of a nationwide cheese surplus which hasn’t been this high in 30 years. While the cheese will go to places like local food banks through USDA nutrition assistance programs, the reduction in surplus will help struggling dairy farmers across the country.

The move was made after a request from the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and the National Milk Producers Foundation (NMPF).

John Newton, who is an AAEA member and works for the American Farm Bureau Federation, says the USDA's action will “help alleviate the tough realities of the market and keep family farmers in business at a time when too many are leaving.”

“In 2016 milk prices fell to their lowest levels since 2009,” Newton said. “The USDA’s actions to purchase cheese for food donation programs helps farmers and makes nutritious dairy products more available to needy families.” 

To learn more about the AFB request, the impact of the purchase, and to schedule an interview with Dr. Newton, please contact Jay Saunders in the AAEA Business Office.         

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association of agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 20 countries. Members of AAEA are employed by academic or government institutions, as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of teaching, research, and extension/outreach activities. AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy. To learn more please visit

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