Farm Progress

Federal Milk Marketing Order hearings begin

Hearing process expected to last several weeks.

Joshua Baethge, Policy editor

August 23, 2023

2 Min Read
Cows in pasture
Getty Images

USDA hearings on the Federal Milk Marketing Orders began Wednesday morning in Carmel, Indiana. The process is expected to last several weeks, with testimony from various stakeholders and producers. At stake is the future of the FMMO, which sets prices milk processors are required to pay milk producers. Those prices vary based on region and the processer’s end-product.

National Milk Producers Federation president and CEO Jim Mulhern says the hearing is a “once-in-a-generation” event that represents a critical moment for dairy’s future.  After years of lobbying, he’s hopeful that changes to the milk-pricing system will ultimately benefit dairy farmers.

“Thanks to the tireless efforts of dairy farmers and their cooperatives, this industry is poised for progress as Federal Milk Marketing Order modernization is now in sight,” Mulhern says. “NMPF’s comprehensive proposal for improvements to the system forms the basis of this hearing, and through our members’ depth of expertise and unmatched team of dairy farmers and cooperative analysts, we are prepared to advance our industry’s need for these updates.”

The NMPF, which represents dairy producers and co-ops, is among several organizations submitting FMMO proposals for USDA consideration. The International Dairy Foods Association, which represents dairy processors, also submitted two proposals.  IDFA chief economist Mike Brown says his organization wants to see milk pricing formulas that support all parts of the supply chain.

“That is why IDFA submitted two proposals—one requesting USDA to update make allowances which are woefully out of date after nearly 20 years, and a second proposal on Class I milk that allows our members to manage risk effectively while putting more dollars into the pockets of dairy farmers over time than they would receive under the ‘higher of’ mover proposal,” Brown says.

He adds that he’s confident USDA is working in the best interest of the full dairy supply chain, not just one constituent.

Once the hearing process ends, all groups involved will have an opportunity to respond to the testimony presented. Following that, USDA will craft a proposal for consideration. That will be followed by more discussion and review.  Eventually, dairy farmers will vote on a final FMMO proposal, though that is not expected for at least a year.

About the Author(s)

Joshua Baethge

Policy editor, Farm Progress

Joshua Baethge covers a wide range of government issues affecting agriculture. Before joining Farm Progress, he spent 10 years as a news and feature reporter in Texas. During that time, he covered multiple state and local government entities, while also writing about real estate, nightlife, culture and whatever else was the news of the day.

Baethge earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas. In his free time, he enjoys going to concerts, discovering new restaurants, finding excuses to be outside and traveling as much as possible. He is based in the Dallas area where he lives with his wife and two kids.

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