Federal dry milk distribution program set for farmers and ranchers
|Cattlemen and farmers in Carbon County will be eligible for dry milk distribution from the UDAF in the next few weeks.|
The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) will distribute approximately 8.9 million pounds of non-fat dry milk to eligible Utah beef cattle, buffalo, sheep and goat owners. The Nonfat Dry Milk (NDM) being distributed as part of a nine-state U.S. Department of Agriculture drought assistance program announced April 8, 2003 by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Ann M. Veneman. The milk is an excellent feed additive for cattle and other livestock.
"This is a welcomed program that will help get needed nutrition to the drought-weakened livestock herds in Utah," said Cary G. Peterson, Utah Commissioner of Agriculture and Food. "We expect to start distributing the milk as soon as we can formulate a fair and economical plan."
The UDAF will offer the dry milk to eligible livestock owners in all 29 Utah counties. The allocation will be pro-rated based on the number of livestock owners who sign up for the program.
"I have advised Governor Leavitt, and he is in agreement, that drought conditions merit extending the milk allotments to all qualified Utah ranchers," said Peterson
The UDAF is currently working on the logistics of receiving and distributing the large amount of dry powdered milk. It is estimated that the nearly nine million pounds of milk will require 208 semi-truck loads, each weighing 43,000 pounds. The milk is shipped in 55-pound sacks that are specially wrapped to seal out moisture.
Ranchers interested in receiving the milk would be required to verify their herd size and be able to promptly retrieve it from centrally located distribution points.
Locally there will be a meeting on April 30 at 10 a.m. in the Carbon County Courthouse concerning questions and feeding instructions. The program will include a video linkup with state officials and a fact sheet will be included, according to Marlon Winger, the local agent for the Utah State Extension service.
While the dry powdered milk is offered free to livestock owners, there could be costs to recipients associated with the storage, loading and local transportation of the milk. The USDA will pay for the transportation of the milk to Utah.
Eligible livestock owners will soon receive an application packet in the mail. Ranchers who are interested in receiving the milk should immediately return the application to the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food by either mail or fax.Based on the interest level, the UDAF will establish distribution points throughout Utah.
The U.S. Drought Monitor will be used to determine which counties are eligible, and eligibility will be re-evaluated every 30 days to ensure the program is targeted to producers in greatest need.
"While the USDA has allocated the surplus milk to Utah based on "exceptional" drought conditions in 11 counties, it is important to note that currently the entire state is in "extreme" drought conditions," Peterson added.
Eligible livestock are foundation herds (breeding and replacement stock, not dairy cows) of beef cattle, buffalo, sheep, and goats. The allocation of NDM for a county will be based on a renewable, if applicable, 30-day supply, based upon two pounds of NDM per day for beef cattle and buffalo, and one-half pound of NDM per day for sheep and goats. Individual allotments may vary based on pro-rated distribution.
"We're not sure when it will arrive in our area right now, but we have located a building to store and distribute it from," says Winger.
The UDAF is working with various agriculture-oriented groups and agencies such as the Utah Cattlemen's Association, the Utah Wool Growers Association, Utah Farm Bureau Federation, Utah Farmer's Union, Utah State University Extension Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency, Intermountain Farmers Association, and other members of the Utah Feed Dealers and Manufacturers Association.
The high-protein milk powder requires special feeding instructions, since the product should not be fed directly to livestock. USU livestock nutrition specialists are distributing feeding information about the various safe feeding options for livestock owners.
"Feeding it is my biggest concern," says Winger. "The stuff provides more energy than corn and has double the protein of hay, but how that will be given to cattle in the right amount is a problem. If it is overfed it can cause problems. Those that have mixing wagons will be able to really use it right. Those without could be another story."
The USDA has placed a conservative estimated value of the product at $80 per ton. Utah's allotment of 8.9 million pounds is valued at $365,000. The USDA will partner with state and tribal governments to move the non-fat dry milk to eligible producers. Approximately 100 counties in nine states currently meet the initial eligibility criteria. The states with eligible counties include Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
The USDA can increase Utah's allotment of NDM if and when drought conditions in Utah warrant.
The NDM program does not affect livestock owners' eligibility to participate in other USDA sponsored drought relief programs. The NDM being offered to ranchers is a portion of the one billion pounds of powdered milk currently being stored by the U.S. government. The milk was originally intended for human consumption, but has exceeded its expiration date.
The distribution of the milk accomplishes two goals. It reduces the cost the USDA pays for storing the milk, and it helps livestock owners improve the quality of their feed diet during severe drought condition.
Questions about the program can be directed to UDAF at (801) 538-7104.