Farm Bureau and Farmers Union Collaborate on FMMO Modernization

April 1 was the post-hearing deadline for interested parties to submit briefs to the USDA on Federal Milk Marketing Order modernization. Danny Munch, an economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation, gives an update on where the modernization process currently stands.

Munch says, “There are still a few other steps in the process. USDA now has 90 days to review all of the post-hearing briefs that were submitted on April 1, and they will publish a proposed recommended decision to the Federal Register. Once that occurs, they comment on the recommended rule. USDA will use those comments to make a final recommended rule, and then a referendum for farmers will be organized to vote on whether to accept or reject those changes.”

Munch says AFBF recently joined the National Farmers Union in sending a letter to USDA urging the department to push pause on updating make allowances. Munch says, “Make allowances represent the cost and a credit to processors to convert raw milk into further-processed dairy products like cheese and butter. They are part of the milk pricing formula, and any increase to the make allowances lowers dairy farmers’ checks. Currently, there are some stakeholders in the hearing process that are pushing for make allowances to be increased based on voluntary surveys, so they don’t represent all processors out in the industry, and our letter is saying the USDA should not increase make allowances until we have a mandatory survey that includes all processors.”

Munch says it’s significant that Farm Bureau and Farmers Union worked together on this issue. He says, “At the end of this process, dairy farmers are the ones who ultimately vote on whether or not to accept or reject those changes. They’re the only one of those stakeholders that vote on changes to federal orders, so combined, AFBF and NFU represent a consensus of those dairy farmers and the interests that USDA should be considering as they craft any of their proposed decisions.”

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