Ag department releases dry milk as cattle feed

WASHINGTON, DC, July 19, 2004 (ENS): For the second year the U.S. Department of Agriculture is counteracting extreme drought conditions by providing surplus USDA stocks of nonfat dry milk to livestock producers.

Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said Friday that the program will help livestock producers "maintain their herds until pastures regain growth," but she warned the dry milk is not for human consumption in any case.

In April 2003, Veneman established a national interagency drought council to monitor ongoing drought conditions and the impact on agriculture producers. The council also has worked to find ways to use existing programs and develop new initiatives to provide assistance to farmers and ranchers.

One of the programs developed by the council began last year and utilized surplus stocks of non-fat dry milk, which are not destined for human consumption.

About 95 counties in nine states currently meet the initial eligibility criteria for the nonfat dry milk program. The states with eligible counties are: Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.

To date, USDA has provided almost 400 million pounds of nonfat dry milk in 10 states and 85 counties to supplement the feed for 2.3 million head of beef cattle, sheep, goats and bison.

The non-fat dry milk program is in addition to emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program Acres that Veneman announced June 24 to provide relief for farmers and ranchers in qualifying areas.

To help producers find hay supplies, USDA has a website for producers to list information about the need for hay or the availability of hay for sale. The Hay Net website is located at: Information about other programs available can be located at:

The administration has enhanced the risk management tools that farmers have at their disposal. Last year, the Risk Management Agency provided more than $3.2 billion in indemnities and provided coverage for more than 75 percent of total cropland acreage.

The current drought is lowering reservoir levels and reducing irrigation supplies across the Wets, the USDA says.

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