The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that $350m in pandemic assistance payments will be given to dairy farmers.

The Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Programme will provide a COVID-19 assistance payment for dairy farmers who have been financially affected by the pandemic.

Many US farmers have suffered a financial loss because the value of their milk was cut due to the volatile markets during the pandemic.


Under the scheme, payments will reimburse qualified dairy farmers for 80% of the revenue difference per month.

This is based on an annual production of up to 5m pounds (2.2m litres) of milk marketed and on fluid milk sales from July to December 2020.

The payment rate will vary depending on the region and will be based on the actual losses on pooled milk related to price abnormalities.

The USDA will make payments through agreements it has made with independent handlers and co-operatives.

"The assistance will help the dairy industry be more resilient to future challenges," agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said.

Handlers and co-operatives will distribute the monies on the same basis for July to December 2020.

Payments were made to their dairy farmer suppliers and a formula was set by the USDA. The USDA will reimburse handlers and co-operatives for any administrative costs that may accumulate.

“The Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Programme is another component of our ongoing effort to get aid to producers who have been left behind and build on our progress towards economic recovery,” said agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack.

“Family dairy farmers have been battered by the pandemic, trade issues and unpredictable weather and are the life-blood of many rural communities throughout Vermont, the northeast and many other regions,” he added.

Senator Patrick Leahy, the senator with the most seniority on the agriculture committee, said: “This will help to make up for losses suffered by these family farms due to the pandemic and will be good news for farmers go into the fall.”