Some farmers reluctant to testify at Federal Order hearing

A dairy leader says the ongoing hearing on the Federal Milk Marketing Order system is not getting as much farmer testimony as it should.

Groups including Farm Bureau have told Brownfield a good number of dairy farmers have testified before the USDA’s hearing either in Carmel Indiana or online, but Lucas Sjostrom with Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative and Minnesota Milk says in his role with Minnesota Milk, he knows of farmers who won’t testify. “A lot of farmers today due to the power swing of not being able to switch your milk market, a lot of farmers today are very afraid of what they say out loud could affect whether their milk truck comes tomorrow, and I think that’s realistic.”

And Sjostrom says some producers won’t risk being put out of business by speaking up. “Farmers have told me that. I testified to that at the federal hearing that I happened to belong to a cooperative that allows me to speak freely, is pretty comfortable with whatever changes are made at the federal level, but I believe that there are other places that are more set in their policy and if you stepped outside the box, you don’t know what might happen to you as a milk supplier for them.”

USDA’s Ag Marketing Service has said they want to know about any repercussions from processors, but Sjostrom testified about ten farmers who told him they can’t risk voicing their opinions about the federal orders.

AUDIO: Lucas Sjostrom discusses the FMMO hearing and several issues being considered along with how some farmers are reluctant to testify.

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