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Illinois dairy leader optimistic about milk price hearing

An Illinois dairy leader is looking forward to the USDA’s hearing on the Federal Milk Marketing Orders.

Tony Graves and his family milk 13 hundred Jerseys near Dundas in southeastern Illinois.  He says the USDA opening a hearing is a good thing, and like many organizations, the Illinois Milk Producers Association and Prairie Farms want the Class One milk price mover changed back to the higher-of Class III and IV instead of the average-of formula put into the 2018 Farm Bill. “When COVID hit, we got hit really hard with negative PPD’s (Producer Price Differentials) and that’s how they changed how they price milk, and so the biggest thing for us is if they go to the higher-of with Class III and IV. That’s what hammered us so bad. That’s a huge one right there.”

Graves says the Dairy Margin Coverage Program is working well for some producers, but the cutoff at five million pounds of milk makes it hard for many producers. “I’d say the average-sized producer is at five million pounds, and then if you’re a bigger farm, after that, you’re kind of on your own.”

Graves is optimistic the hearing will address many dairy pricing issues. “I hope there’s a lot of support on the higher-of going there. They’re going to change a little bit on the components, of course, that’s changed nationwide, too. Make sure that they guys down in the southeast, they’re always hurting because, well, they don’t produce much milk and it’s tough, and they need more money for the milk just to survive, so I hope those things transpire.”

The Federal Milk Marketing Order hearing begins Wednesday, August 23rd in Mt. Carmel, Indiana.  Farmers will be able to testify in person daily or virtually on Fridays until the long hearing process concludes.

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