Senator Stabenow, U.S. Department of Agriculture Announce Dairy Donation Program

Michigan Initiative Inspires National Program

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

WASHINGTON—Senator Debbie Stabenow joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Michigan Milk Producers Association, and Food Council of Michigan to announce the establishment of a $400 million Dairy Donation Program.


Under the program, eligible dairy organizations will partner with nonprofit food assistance organizations that distribute food to individuals and families in need. Those partnerships may apply for and receive reimbursements to cover some expenses related to eligible dairy product donations. The program was inspired in part by the donations made by the Michigan Milk Producers Association in conjunction with the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan in response to the Flint water crisis.


“The Dairy Donation Program is a win-win for farmers and families. It will be easier for dairy farmers to donate milk and other dairy products, which in turn helps feed vulnerable Americans, including our children,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. “Michigan dairy farm families and food banks continue to lead by example. I am proud of the role they played in pioneering this initiative, which has become a model for the nation.”


“The benefits of the Dairy Donation Program are twofold – it supplements other financial support for producers while providing nutritious dairy products to American families,” said Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh. “When there is surplus milk production, we encourage the milk be donated instead of being dumped. Together we can help someone in need, minimize food waste and support the U.S. dairy industry.”


Joe Diglio, President and CEO of Michigan Milk Producers Association said, “We are excited for the launch of this new program, which builds on the significant donation partnerships we have been undertaking in Michigan for the last several years. Our dairy farmer members and others in the dairy sector have long supported giving back to our communities, and this program helps expand our efforts. We thank Senator Stabenow for her leadership in getting this program enacted into law, and we applaud the U.S. Department of Agriculture for its work in implementing this new program, which will aid hunger relief efforts across the country while reducing food waste and supporting local dairy farmers.”


“This program comes at a time when the need has never been greater for fresh foods to help Michiganders,” said Dr. Phil Knight, Executive Director of the Food Bank Council of Michigan. “Michigan’s agricultural community, especially the state’s dairy farmers, have come alongside of us throughout the pandemic. Their partnership means fresh, nutritious food and milk for families, children and seniors.”


“We commend Chairwoman Stabenow for her leadership in authoring this program and look forward to working with Congress to secure additional funding for this program in the future to continue to minimize food waste by providing nutritious dairy products to those who need them most,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation.


The establishment of the program is part of $6 billion in pandemic assistance USDA announced in March. It follows USDA’s announcement of the $350 million Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program for dairy farmers, which became available on Aug. 19.  It is the second part of an over $2 billion comprehensive package to help the dairy industry recover from the pandemic and make it more resilient during future challenges.


For more information, see the USDA program page [].