National Farmers Says It’s Time to Recognize U.S. has One Federal Order Milk Market, Not 11
(Ames, Iowa) May 7, 2020 — National Farmers Organization dairy leader says it’s time for milk regulators to recognize U.S. milk markets should be treated as one national system, rather than the regional approach USDA’s Federal Milk Marketing Orders uses now.
Last week, USDA rejected a request for an emergency hearing to secure a temporary increase in the Class I milk price. Because of COVID-19, major dairy processors proposed a minimum $15.68 Class I milk price in June, July and August.
“In this time when we have great highways and transportation equipment, packed fluid milk products travel across Federal Order lines on a regular basis,” said National Farmers Director of Milk Sales Dick Bylsma. The Federal Milk Marketing Orders were first created more than 80 years ago. “The old days when we had somewhat definable lines separating areas of similar supply and demand are gone; when it comes to both supply and demand for milk, the market is national, not regional,” Bylsma said.
He pointed out that USDA’s Dairy Margin Protection program is national in scope, not regional. “Under the DMC program, we don’t recognize regionalism of milk pricing like we do in the Federal Order system. The DMC program uses a national All-Milk Price to calculate what a dairy farmer will get out of the program.”
National Farmers’ Bylsma’s position is, the system cannot have it both ways. “If the intent is to maintain the regional Federal Orders for the benefit of those few dairy farmers who sell into those higher-priced Class I markets, to be consistent, it makes sense to recognize this in the DMC program and use regional milk prices instead of a national price to determine DMC payments,” Bylsma said.
But Bylsma said a regional system pits one farmer against another and results in lost benefits for everyone. He said a national system distributes benefits equally and allows farmers to work together in their common interest.
“The idea of one national Federal Milk Marketing Order has a lot of merit. Our milk market is no longer regional, and it is time we started recognizing that and act accordingly,” Bylsma said.
National Farmers markets milk, livestock and crops for thousands of American agricultural producers. We offer six decades of experience representing farmers and ranchers, and grouping production from many ag operations. We help producers market together. National Farmers’ experienced marketing professionals negotiate on conventional and certified organic farmers’ behalf in cash and contract sales, establishing commodity sales terms with the farmers’ interests in mind.