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The third component of the Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) program is ready to begin Dec. 1, following action by the National Milk Producers Federation.

The board authorized the CWT program managers to start accepting bids for exporting cheese and butterfat under the CWT export-assistance program. CWT has budgeted approximately $20 million for the program, which is designed to be similar to the USDA Dairy Export Incentive Program.

Providing economic incentives for the export of cheese and butter will "strengthen the prices of these commodities, which ultimately has a direct impact on the milk checks of dairy farmers," said Jerry Kozak, president and CEO of NMPF.

The CWT program also consists of a reduced-milk-production marketing program and a herd-retirement program. Under the herd-retirement program, 299 herds are being retired for a total reduction of 32,724 cows, representing 608 million pounds of annual milk production. The reduced-production program saw 77 bids accepted and has a goal of reducing the nation's milk supply by 88 million pounds during the next 12 months.

The overall CWT goal is to improve the national milk price by a target of 36 cents per hundredweight.

Western United Dairymen