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FMMO Hearing Heralds Farmer-Led Progress for Dairy, NMPF Says

August 23, 2023

The first day of USDA’s once-in-a-generation hearing on federal milk pricing represents a critical moment for dairy’s future, one in which the National Milk Producers Federation intends to lead, President and CEO Jim Mulhern said today.

“Thanks to the tireless efforts of dairy farmers and their cooperatives, this industry is poised for progress as Federal Milk Marketing Order modernization is now in sight,” Mulhern said, as dairy experts and government officials gathered in Carmel, IN, for what’s expected to be five to seven weeks of testimony and discussion of proposals to update and improve the FMMO system, which last saw a major revision in 2000. “NMPF’s comprehensive proposal for improvements to the system forms the basis of this hearing, and through our members’ depth of expertise and unmatched team of dairy farmers and cooperative analysts, we are prepared to advance our industry’s need for these updates.”

Following USDA’s initial presentations, the hearing will then launch into discussions of specific issues placed within the scope of the hearing, including; milk composition; surveyed commodity products; Class III and Class IV formula factors; the Base Class I skim milk price; and Class I and Class II price differentials.

After the hearing’s conclusion, entities involved in the hearing then have a period of time to respond to the testimony, followed by a USDA draft decision, then more discussion, and ultimately a vote among dairy farmers on a final proposal, likely in the second half of 2024.

Because of the hearing’s complexity and the multi-step process of formulating and approving a final plan afterward, Mulhern noted that the hearing itself is far from the culmination of the process. Still, as the centerpiece of milk-pricing efforts, the next few weeks will be the most intense for public discussion of how to create a better milk-price system for dairy farmers – a moment NMPF has spent literally years waiting for.

“Though far from the final word, this national hearing stage is a critical phase that starts a foreseeable timeline for a new system to become real,” Mulhern said. “That’s exciting for our industry. It took a long time, and incredible effort, to get to where we are today. With the leadership I know our member cooperatives will provide, it can only lead to a brighter tomorrow.”