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For the first time ever, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will buy up milk from dairy farmers – $50 million worth. It'll go to soup kitchens and food banks to help people in need. But the program also has another purely economic purpose: to help America's struggling dairy producers. U.S. milk consumption has fallen more than 4 percent since last year, driven in part by shifting consumer preferences. Think of all those non-dairy milks, like almond and cashew, crowding store shelves. 

Agricultural economist Daniel Sumner at the University of California, Davis said the purchase is only a drop in the bucket. 

"How much can you move the needle on price buying one-tenth-of-one percent of milk?" Sumner said. "Not very much." 

Click on the audio player above to hear more. 

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Follow Mitchell Hartman at @entrepreneurguy