Honorable Members of Congress:
Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association writes to you today, representing 700 companies and cooperatives in the food processing industry located all across our country.
Our members’ mission, in the midst of grave challenges posed by the spread of COVID-19, is the safety of their hundreds of thousands of employees – most deemed essential workers by the President – and the continued availability of ample supplies of nutritious dairy products.
Our members are asking, urgently, for aid that can be deployed rapidly by state and industry experts as crises emerge.
Immediately, dairy processors and manufacturers are grappling with a decreased workforce due to a lack of childcare and an increasingly volatile economic environment. For manufacturers and processors who focus sales in the restaurants and food service industry, markets have greatly diminished. Other businesses have had to immediately shift their output to serve the most critical food needs.
Our members also anticipate the threat of COVID-19 in their plants, a development which would, at minimum, slow production. A COVID-19 outbreak in the processing community could also trigger extended, expensive milk hauling or milk disposal, a prospect of grave concern to our farmer patrons.
Senator Tammy Baldwin is requesting $1 billion in appropriations for state departments of agriculture and flexible block grant funding. Monies will ultimately result in direct-to-business aids which can be applied nimbly and with great flexibility, to ensure operations continue and our food supply is maintained. We wholly support this request, and ask you to do the same. We also thank Sen. Baldwin for her leadership.
Our members need your support now, and ask you to commit to directing emergency funding to the food processing community. Please contact us with your questions.
Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association