Final FMMO arguments are filed as USDA decision set to follow

By Teodora Lyubomirova

- Last updated on GMT

Getty/Henrik Sorensen
Getty/Henrik Sorensen

Related tags Milk

The National Milk Producers Federation said it has submitted its final arguments in the long-lasting process of modernizing the US milk marketing order system. Now USDA has 90 days to issue a recommended decision before the process moves forward.

The NMPF said it submitted its final comments on March 29, its proposals ‘intended to put farmers first’ according to the organization president and CEO, Gregg Doud. “We’ve spent nearly three years painstakingly assembling the broad consensus among dairy farmers that modernization needs to succeed. Our approach is careful and comprehensive, and it benefits farmers of all regions and types of operations,” he added.

NMPF is arguing in favor of the return to the ‘higher of’ Class I mover; discontinuing the use of barrel cheese in the protein component price formula; extending the 30-day reporting limit on forward-priced sales on nonfat dry milk and dry whey; updating milk component factors for protein, other solids and nonfat solids in Class III and Class IV skim milk price formulas; developing a process to ensure make-allowances are reviewed more frequently; updating dairy product manufacturing allowances, and updating the Class I differential price system to reflect changes in the cost of delivering bulk milk to fluid processing plants.

During the hearing that concluded in January, the USDA accepted 21 proposals out of 40 submissions. Earlier in the process, trade group the International Dairy Foods Association submitted a make allowance proposal that would reduce milk prices by nearly a dollar per hundredweight, reducing the regulated value of farmers’ milk by around $1.45bn in a year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

IDFA’s proposals were dubbed ‘divisive’ by Dairy Farmers of America, with the co-op leaving the trade organization over its disagreement with their scope. Meanwhile, NMPF’s proposals were viewed as more moderate, though two IDFA proposals - one requesting that USDA update make allowances, and a second proposal on Class I milk pricing, have also been accepted by the USDA.

As the deadline for final arguments passed on April 1, the department has 90 days – no later than June 30 - to return a ‘recommended decision’ or a ‘tentative final decision’.

After the decision has been published, additional comments and exceptions to it may then be filed, with the USDA then set to issue its final decision and hold a referendum to allow stakeholders to approve or reject the proposed changes.

If the changes are approved, the amendments to the order will be published in the Federal Register as a final rule, along with details on when the amendments become effective.

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