National Farmers Urges Federal Milk Market Order Reform

(AMES, Iowa) March 20, 2019 —At National Farmers annual convention in West Des Moines, Iowa last week, dairy leaders focused on historic low milk prices and urged overhauling America’s Federal Milk Marketing Orders.

“I believe it’s time to consider modifying the Federal Milk Marketing Order system to properly address the milk price crisis,” said National Farmers Milk Sales Director Dick Bylsma. The marketing orders were originally created in the 1930s to level the dairy farmer playing field and improve prices paid to producers. “But now, the order system no longer achieves its original goals,” Bylsma said.

National Farmers two-tier pricing proposal would require all milk nationally to be pooled together into a single marketing order, and every producer would receive a $4 per hundredweight premium on the first 1 million pounds marketed each month. The remainder of the money in the pool would be allocated to producers based on milk marketing volume.

“This plan evens the playing field, which would fulfill the original intent of the Federal Milk Marketing Orders,” Bylsma said.

The current dairy price situation has also prompted National Farmers Organization, Wisconsin National Farmers Union— along with several other state National Farmers Union chapters— and Holstein Association USA to launch an initiative to delve into solutions, called the Dairy Together Roadshow, which is also intended to unite family farmers and rural community members in seeking and creating a way to help smaller producers.

The current dairy price crisis, now in its fourth year, affects all dairy farmers of every scale. However, the financial pressure of the dairy crisis is elevated for smaller farms, which don’t have the purchasing power of larger operations, or other advantages scale provides.

In the last five decades, America has lost 94 percent of its family size dairy farms, falling from 670,000 dairy farms in 1970 to less than 40,000 in 2019.

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.

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