American Farm Bureau wants more from milk hearing

The American Farm Bureau Federation is asking the USDA to hold a hearing on milk price reforms, and to consider changes that go beyond what is requested in two other hearing requests.

Chief Economist Roger Cryan tells Brownfield the first request for a Federal Milk Marketing Order hearing didn’t address issues important to farmers. “Processors asked USDA to have a hearing just to update make allowances, the allowance for the processors in the milk price formula. That would have cut farmer milk prices and we sent a letter to the secretary asking that they not have a hearing on that basis.”

Cryan says the processors teamed up with the International Dairy Foods Association for one request, and the National Milk Producers Federation also requested a hearing.  Cryan says Farm Bureau agrees with the National Milk Producers Federation in principle, but Farm Bureau has additional dairy policy issues, and they want verifiable data to back up any make allowance adjustments. “Their proposal to increase that allowance for processors, we believe, should only happen if it’s based on a mandatory audited survey by USDA of all of the plants that are going to submit to the price survey.”

Cryan says USDA typically decides if they will have a hearing and then asks for additional proposals. “Farm Bureau will have some additional proposals because we do have policy beyond what National Milk is doing. We do have our own policy, and while there’s a lot of useful, constructive overlap for partnership between NMPF and Farm Bureau, we will be certainly pursuing our own policies which are very farmer-focused.”

Cryan says Farm Bureau’s proposals modernize the Federal Milk Marketing Order system without making fundamental changes. 

Cryan says Farm Bureau also supports returning to the “higher of” Class III and IV for fluid milk formula, increasing the Class II differential, increasing the location value of milk, and getting rid of advanced pricing on milk.

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