The surplus, which was more than a billion pounds just two years ago, is dwindling because of high milk prices. When prices are low, the government buys surplus dairy products to help boost farm income, and distributes the surplus to food aid and livestock feed programs. With high prices, the government cuts back on purchases.
The surplus now is less than 200 million pounds, and is expected to be exhausted by Sept. 30, the end of the federal fiscal year.
Estimates vary on the number of people affected by the vanishing surplus. Analysts say as many as 120,000 people will be cut off from the federal Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which provides food aid to needy mothers, infants and the elderly.