USDA’s Federal Milk Marketing Order modernization hearing begins Wednesday and dairy farmers are eager to be part of the process. National Milk Producers Federation Director of Economic Research and Analysis, Stephen Cain, says there is a lot of ground to cover.
“It’s a big process, we don’t do these very often,” says Cain. “The last time we had a big process like this, it was about 20 years ago. We’ve developed a big package that we think is going to help the U.S. dairy farmer, but we’re not the only kids on the block, there’s some other groups in there that have some different opinions. So, we’re going to have a good time explaining to USDA why we think some of these changes need to be made and think the way that we think they need to be done.”
NMPF has spent two years preparing for the hearing, taking insights from the industry to craft proposals.
Cain says, “We’ve got kind of five key proposal pieces. A couple of the big ones, though, are looking at the Class I mover adjustment. We went to an average of three and four a few years ago that had some kind of unintended consequences. We’re looking to go back to another mover now, it’s called the higher of. Another key piece here is make allowance adjustments, updating those, make sure they’re in line with how the industry is operating today.”
The hearing in Carmel, Indiana, is expected to last a few weeks as USDA hears testimony from the dairy industry. “USDA is going to announce kind of a recommended decision here early at the beginning of next year, probably in February – March. And then we’ll have some time for comments back and forth before they issue their final decision, and it’s likely going to come out in the June – July time frame next year,” according to Cain. “So, that’ll be the big piece where everyone will kind of get a general idea of what the updates are going to be. And then, after that USDA will hold a referendum for each of the orders, allow them to vote in the changes if you’d like to, and then we’ll finally get those fully effective there later in the fall of next year.”
Cain adds the goal of the effort is to benefit U.S. dairy farmers.
He says, “We’re trying to make sure that things stay in line with how the industry operates today. You can imagine the industry has changed over 20 years and some of these pieces of the orders have been updated in that time. So, we’re not looking to make some huge groundbreaking changes. This is more of a modernization effort. So, we’re making sure that all the things we’re doing here is to benefit the U.S. dairy farmer. Make sure that they’re adequate being compensated, that they’re being treated fairly. And really one of the big pieces here that we’ve done this time as well is to make sure that all of the changes in the updates that we’re looking to make are future proof, making sure that we don’t have these huge swaths of time where the industry gets out of line with orders. At the end of the day, we think we have a really strong package of proposals that really can benefit U.S. dairy farmer and help them succeed.”
Learn more at nmpf.org.