US Government Buys 11 Million Pounds of Cheese to Tackle Dairy Surplus
Washington has stepped in to tackle America’s cheese mountain with the Federal government buying 11 million pounds of the surplus.
It has cost the American taxpayer $20 million (£15 million), the US Department of Agriculture said. The cheese will be distributed to food banks across the country.
There are several reasons for the cheese mountain in the US. Farmers had boosted production when they were getting record prices.
But thanks to the strength of the dollar, demand has slumped, creating a huge cheese surplus which has reached a 30-year high.
Cheese has been a source of tension between the United States and the EU, with Washington and Brussels at odds over American demands to sell US-made cheeses labelled as parmesan, gorgonzola, brie and other traditional brands to the Far East.
“We understand that the nation’s dairy producers are experiencing challenges due to market conditions and that food banks continue to see strong demand for assistance,” Tom Vilsack, the Agriculture Secretary, said.
According to official figures dairy farmers have seen their incomes fall by 35 per cent over the past two years.
Farming accounts for one in 11 jobs in the US with the biggest dairy producers to be found in California, Wisconsin, New York and Idaho.
On average Americans eat 14.8 kilos (32.6lbs) of cheese a year – by comparison Britons consume 10.9 kilos (24lbs).