<img class=" wp-image-56960 alignright" src="https:\/\/theenterprise.net\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/23\/2021\/09\/dairy_1632829563-300x200.jpg" alt="" width="381" height="254" \/>More than $2 billion in federal aid has been committed to U.S. dairies throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and an additional $400 million now is available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture\u2019s Dairy Donation Program.\r\n\r\nU.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Jewel Bronaugh announced Aug. 25 the establishment of the program, which aims to facilitate timely dairy product donations while reducing overall food waste. The DDP became effective Sept. 2.\r\n\r\nThrough the program, eligible dairy operations will partner with nonprofit feeding organizations to distribute dairy products to those in need. Dairy farmers, cooperatives and processing facilities that produce retail dairy products are eligible to participate.\r\n\r\nThe $400 million designated under the program is designed to help offset the costs associated with processing and donating qualified dairy products.\r\n\r\nEligible producers, co-ops and processors will be reimbursed for the cost of milk used to make donated products, as well as some associated manufacturing and transportation costs.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe benefits of the Dairy Donation Program are twofold\u2014it supplements other financial support for producers while providing nutritious dairy products to American families,\u201d said Bronaugh, who previously served as commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services before her USDA appointment.\r\n\r\n"When there is surplus milk production, we encourage the milk be donated instead of being dumped,\u201d she continued. \u201cTogether, we can help someone in need, minimize food waste and support the U.S. dairy industry.\u201d\r\n\r\nAccording to USDA, the DDP is part of a wider stimulus package that will help the U.S. dairy industry respond to the ongoing pandemic, improve existing programs and establish new ones.\r\n\r\nTony Banks, senior assistant director of agriculture, development and innovation for\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/r20.rs6.net\/tn.jsp?f=001CCYRx82P0f3chQ1F2_x0VeOA_DinOehJfwDKmcrtPnQ5dwv6IyYAi8qFzWfdxWlAzTLmninAHKyTsageHYyt5UI0ShZ5yb1VCQ_s9RiVBC91LVLb4SfZxGl9FoXUk-bOMzQ5BdLxKvE=&c=xDYbyuyEoivUz0w6LSCaadtWQHh6c_DYC9SHhhsHkSR2d2JXK2dfQA==&ch=yLv7A0DN8uz7Oc9GSAuOqvnOcE44zroq7sFxyTeWPh8L_qNwSaVEqg==">Virginia Farm Bureau Federation<\/a>, noted USDA\u2019s continued investment in U.S. dairies could be positive for Virginia producers.\r\n\r\nBanks said local farmers could benefit directly from the program if their cooperative or processor is eligible for participation. They may benefit indirectly as the program increases volume and consumer demand for dairy products.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt can be a challenge to donate dairy products, because the processing required to make those products\u2014as well as the refrigerated transportation and storage\u2014can be expensive,\u201d Banks said. \u201cThe DDP will make it easier for farmers, co-ops and processors to make those donations and recoup some production and transportation costs.\u201d\r\n\r\nProgram details are available at\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/r20.rs6.net\/tn.jsp?f=001jsgolOnjWnUp8yty3OXpoJnf1Nb4dcRPbQy1-yyULT6akM3BY8HvE9269d1TRnY_STkKheF8ePLlD6rit9jdEFu2zipXcKhMUELnGT9YvMrmOh8z938cweMGMYtsLbFDFQFJHqRX1pGMy4aUMDsug2_7cDXFosShKU4NR9Ktz29cwZ6gWaagIkhYMsRWwGu9S8HxeBnzuhCU45SYvb1zE8v5oe6r00KEaDbPH64kklVfZHgYBTQHGs_IRtmdVSFlre_kjqfygFANwsvC6Ef_zA2LEfQ3JaQLRnflxiw0hzawiz0b7ezXCVVP2TXPL2yWUQWpVsWvGRJvtReQUHQHaRaoBkKALhDqzMicxkoiy0iQJ-7FASEohs8zfFMrG4H1VncTOmlJjvhErk4-qzDQku2zK3PaW9jWEDK2cHDBBojlhWaf9FGfc_Naa107_YD40PhIFDw_iWlYCgwg8L55vgKnI-UcqzqBw9OojmBlSO1TJ2vmXDyzw_HKUuBCrQN6bE_ygFJGgbBIxgPhFx1b7Ro8gxwmKMdvQaZxirpeAGZ7NCQrFuUECXlGM_pLWWV3lFZrBorvU8tmbivLodbkZJEVqlXYmTdFjcrP4P0v0wo0gKW9x7AFBMQPri4MUHlT3_r9cf7tNAKpNyaLW0y5M4cuQlFBVjcg&c=mgryrfMygyT-IyiMVNjbw5VsS6PWUQ3KDKD-dqESoEVM0bQy8wa_JQ==&ch=F6-nGHWvdz4ld_kdPOLD_k4q1Y0GM78oJFSUz9tgAflyqFTXHcuTNg==">ams.usda.gov\/ddp<\/a>, and interested parties can apply by submitting a\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/r20.rs6.net\/tn.jsp?f=001jsgolOnjWnUp8yty3OXpoJnf1Nb4dcRPbQy1-yyULT6akM3BY8HvE9269d1TRnY_ck_5R7COu4HKlghMa6HnfjMUQGLGl0yXIJotthTHbxu0vsgfUaDN-39CBjlSra1BVpUEWxvTegme-IASiDsfJ4UC9jNJzCFslOhjCPgw3aLqo-8vSHMHOssEIO9vIe2OCvoIy6OuwM2boNRuAQA6-GYe5lFKXGfHRFXN_OdzFZFdXOrV93jzcQ==&c=mgryrfMygyT-IyiMVNjbw5VsS6PWUQ3KDKD-dqESoEVM0bQy8wa_JQ==&ch=F6-nGHWvdz4ld_kdPOLD_k4q1Y0GM78oJFSUz9tgAflyqFTXHcuTNg==">Dairy Donation and Distribution Plan Form<\/a>.\r\n\r\nOnce approved, eligible businesses can submit reimbursement claims for dairy product donations dating from Jan. 1, 2020. Operations participating in the Milk Donation Reimbursement Program will automatically be enrolled in the DDP.