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Food pantries in eastern Iowa and western Illinois are being flooded with milk donations under a federal program to buy and distribute nearly $50 million in dairy products to compensate farmers hurt by trade tariffs. | Getty

Quad City-area food banks awash in milk

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DAVENPORT, Iowa — Food pantries in eastern Iowa and western Illinois are being flooded with milk donations under a federal program to buy and distribute nearly $50 million in dairy products to compensate farmers hurt by trade tariffs.

River Bend Foodbank CEO Mike Miller tells the Quad-City Times that about 80,000 half-gallons of milk will be distributed to food pantries across the Quad-City region through March. The spike in donations comes from a U.S. Department of Agriculture program to help dairy farmers caught in the middle of President Donald Trump’s trade disputes with Mexico, China and Canada.

Tariffs have cost American dairy farmers more than $1 billion since May.

Miller says the USDA program is helpful but challenging because milk has a limited shelf life and the program lacks distribution volunteers.

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