FMMO Hearing Ends with NMPF Unity Strong as Ever

February 05, 2024

USDA’s longest-ever federal order hearing ended Jan. 30 with NMPF’s comprehensive approach to modernizing milk pricing at the center of industry discussion. With the FMMO update process now moving to its next phase, NMPF leadership remains critical as USDA moves to formulating its own proposal to put before producers.

“NMPF spent more than two years preparing for USDA’s Federal Order hearing, and that preparation paid off,” said NMPF President and CEO Gregg Doud in a statement after the end of testimony and rebuttals. “Our proposals, unanimously supported by our Board of Directors, reflect farmer unity and a good-faith effort to build industry consensus.

“After five months, 12,000 pages of testimony, and almost two dozen separate proposals considered, our plan remains the most comprehensive, coherent, and compelling framework for modernizing a system that’s badly in need of improvement. We look forward to working with USDA and the entire industry in the weeks and months to come, noting that any plan USDA designs will by necessity require complex analysis to result in a proposal that serves diverse farmer needs well.”

Organized discussions of the federal milk-pricing system, which showed strains under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to struggle in the face of a changing industry, began with NMPF in 2021. The five-month USDA hearing in Carmel, IN, revolved around NMPF’s suite of proposals for change unanimously adopted by its Board of Directors last year.

The hearing has addressed critical issues for dairy farmers, including the “make allowance” re-imbursing processor costs, component pricing for milk, and the Class I price surface that considers travel expenses. Recent discussions have revolved around the so-called Class I mover, a change to which in 2019 has cost farmers roughly $1.2 billion. Doud called for change to the mover in his statement and in NMPF’s monthly CEO’s Corner column published today.

“We’ll continue to advocate for badly needed changes in areas such as the Class I mover,” he said. “It needs to change back to the previous “higher-of’ formula that served farmers best. The higher-of responds quickly to the marketplace, it helps farmer cash flow, it’s simple to understand, and it would have no real impact on processors who are using the formula to boost their immediate balance sheets, not manage future risk as they claim.”

NMPF and member cooperative staff are currently formulating NMPF’s elaboration and defense of its positions in the hearing to USDA, the first step toward USDA’s own proposal. That’s due in less than two months – and only underscores how much work is left to do in creating a fairer pricing system for farmers, Doud said.

“This final year is the most critical,” he said. “We are excited to continue our leadership, and will, as always, fight for the best approaches to ensure that dairy farms prosper.”

December DMC Margin Reverses Trend, Drops to $8.44/cwt

February 05, 2024

The December margin under the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program bucked the trend that began in August of improving milk prices and margins, sliding $1.14/cwt to $8.44/cwt and matching the margin last seen in September. The renewed weakness was due almost entirely to a $1.10/cwt fall in the December all-milk price from November. The December DMC feed cost rose by 4 cents a hundredweight to $12.16/cwt of milk, with higher corn and premium alfalfa hay prices almost offset by a lower soybean meal price.

The average margin for all months of 2023 was $6.70/cwt, effectively tying last year with 2021 for the lowest average calendar-year margin under both the DMC and its predecessor, the Margin Protection Program (MPP). End-of-January futures-based forecasts indicated DMC margins averaging between $10.20/cwt and $11.00/cwt in 2024.

NMPF Creates Task Force to Develop CWT Renewal Plan

February 05, 2024

NMPF established in January a team of cooperative leaders and farmers to develop ideas for the next era of Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) after the current membership funding commitment expires at the end of this year.

This task force, chaired by NMPF Treasurer Pete Kappelman of Land O’Lakes, will focus on identifying and advancing strategies that will enable CWT to maximize its positive affect on farmers’ milk checks while growing U.S. dairy exports. Task force members will re-examine CWT’s role in dairy exports and define what’s needed to expand U.S. dairy sales growth overseas without duplicating existing export efforts.

Others on the task force include:

  • Catherine De Ronde, Agri-Mark
  • Tom Beringer and Scott Tomes, Bongards
  • Rob Vandenheuvel, CDI
  • Monty Schilter, Darigold
  • Michael Lichte and Chris Kraft, DFA
  • Darin Hanson, Foremost Farms
  • Mike John, Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association
  • Chris Hoeger, Prairie Farms
  • Ashley Ellixson and Robert Chesler, United Dairymen of Arizona
  • Steve Patience, Tillamook

The task force will share preliminary recommendations with NMPF’s Board later this spring, assembling a series of actions for the program after 2024, with the expectation that individual cooperatives will vote to renew their support of CWT (or join the program if they are not currently contributing) by the end of this year.

FDA Moves Toward Improved Feed Ingredient Reviews

February 05, 2024

In an important step to modernize its review and approval of animal feed ingredients, the Food and Drug Administration said Feb. 2 it’s withdrawing long-standing policy that classifies animal feed ingredients as animal drugs if making claims on production, environment, or food safety-related benefits.

NMPF has long advocated for FDA to rescind this policy to help pave the way for faster review and approval of animal feed ingredients that can reduce enteric methane emissions. A streamlined approval process, specifically one that would allow feed additives to be reviewed as foods rather than as drugs, is important for dairy farmers seeking to maintain global competitiveness as trade rivals adopt such ingredients, which currently are not allowed in the United States because of lengthy regulatory hurdles.

FDA also made clear that it supports the legislative authority embodied in the NMPF-backed Innovative FEED Act (H.R. 6687, S. 1842), which directs the agency to review enteric-reducing and other products using its Food Additive Petition process. That shift would represent an improvement over the current approach of reviewing such additives as drugs.

NMPF is urging dairy allies to write members of the House of Representatives to become sponsors for the Innovative FEED Act, which is critical to speeding FDA approval of Elanco’s 3-NOP (Bovaer) and similar future products. This NMPF call-to-action contains a pre-drafted message seeking House member endorsement of the legislation.

NMPF Submits Comments on Voluntary Added Sugars Reduction

February 05, 2024

NMPF emphasized the need for a realistic and balanced approach to reducing added sugars in comments submitted to FDA Jan. 22. The comments, which supported the agency’s overall goal to improve healthful eating in the US, but urged for added sugars reductions to be voluntary, were a follow-up to an FDA listening session in which NMPF participated.

NMPF cited dairy’s successful work in voluntarily reducing added sugars in flavored school milk in its comments. “The dairy industry’s proactive, voluntary reduction of added sugars in school milk demonstrates the power of industry-led initiatives in this area,” it said in the comment. “Industry leaders came together around reducing added sugars, investing the time, energy, and resources to reformulate products into healthier options that people still enjoy.”

NMPF also pointed out that modest amounts of added sugars can make nutritious food more palatable, thus encouraging consumption and improving health. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association have both noted that using small amounts of added sugars has effectively increased vital nutrient intakes in a way that improves overall diet quality without increasing calories to unhealthy levels.

FARM Animal Care Kicks Off Version 5 Training

February 05, 2024

In preparation for new standards that go into effect July 1, the National Dairy FARM Program hosted the 2024 FARM Animal Care Version 5 trainer course Denver, CO from Jan. 9-11.

Nineteen trainers reviewed Version 5 revisions, discussed evaluation best practices, and calibrated animal observation scoring on a nearby farm. The trainers will manage training sessions to FARM’s 400 Animal Care evaluators throughout 2024. The first of those sessions for evaluators are Feb. 13-15 in Minneapolis, MN. That meeting will have training content for both seasoned and first-time FARM Animal Care evaluators.

Visit the FARM Program website to learn more about the FARM Animal Care Program evaluator expectations. Check back throughout Q1, as FARM will continue to release more Version 5 specific materials including an evaluation prep guide and reference manual.

The FARM Program’s aim is to continue to proactively communicate updates and prepare cooperatives, processors, and farmers during the first half of 2024, before new FARM Animal Care Version 5 standards are implemented.

Ag Trade Caucus Launches as NMPF Pushes Export Opportunities

February 05, 2024

NMPF Trade Policy Director Tony Rice joined Farmers for Free Trade for Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 meetings with key lawmakers and staff to promote a more proactive U.S. trade agenda. The meetings coincided with the Jan. 31 launch of the new Congressional Ag Trade Caucus, inspired by the farmer group to elevate the importance of trade policy that levels the global playing field for America’s dairy and ag producers.

Rice spoke with congressional staff about the need for new market access for American dairy exports, relaying the industry’s concern that U.S. exporters are seeing growing disadvantages versus America’s competitors. The discussions also offered the opportunity for NMPF and Farmers for Free Trade to educate newer congressional staffers from agricultural districts about the value of exports to their districts and constituents.

NMPF Advocates for Common Names Protections in USTR Comments

February 05, 2024

NMPF, in partnership with the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), submitted comments to the U.S. Trade Representative Jan. 24 that emphasized the U.S. government’s need. to secure commitments from trading partners to assure the future use of certain generic cheese terms. The comments, part of NMPF’s ongoing mission to protect the rights of U.S. cheesemakers to use common names like “parmesan” and “feta” worldwide, were submitted in response to the agency’s request for input on its annual Special 301 review of intellectual property trade issues.

NMPF and USDEC’s submission supported more comprehensive comments from the Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN), which NMPF’s trade policy team staffs. CCFN reiterated how producers on-the-ground are negatively affected when the European Union confiscates common names, and detailed the specific markets that the administration should prioritize work in to preserve export opportunities.

US-EU Trade Discussion Features NMPF’s Morris Representing Dairy

February 05, 2024

Shawna Morris, Executive Vice President for Trade Policy and Global Affairs, attended U.S. Trade and Technology Council (TTC) events on Jan. 30-31 representing U.S. dairy in discussions via the Transatlantic Initiative on Sustainable Trade (TIST) work program.

The European Commission launched the initiative last May to boost bilateral engagement with the United States and accelerate the transition to a climate-neutral economy. Morris participated in a high-level plenary session, a smaller breakout session, and a Jan. 30 welcome reception. While there she focused on the need to ensure EU agricultural policymaking is not wielded as a barrier to trade, encouraging the European Union to focus on collaboration on shared objectives rather than prescriptive dictates that would deepen U.S.-EU agricultural trade tensions.

NMPF Comments on FDA Veterinary Priorities and Antimicrobial Use Duration

February 05, 2024

NMPF submitted comments Jan. 19 to the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine on their Environmental Scan.

The scan’s purpose is to identify major trends, including emerging issues and ongoing challenges, in the veterinary center’s internal and external environments to support, inform, and improve short-term and long-term strategic planning. The center asked six wide ranging questions about priorities, legal authority, communications, and One Health, an effort to improve health outcomes among all species.

NMPF’s comments reviewed the nearly 40-year U.S. dairy industry commitment to One Health through residue avoidance and the FARM animal care program. Comments to specific questions included support for broader FDA authority through the FEED Act to regulate feed additives with non-nutritive benefits, including environmental benefit claims, production claims, and claims about effects on the animal well-being and pre-harvest food safety. The comments also supported FDA’s efforts to streamline development and approval of other novel technologies to address animal health, antimicrobial use, and environmental issues.

The veterinary medicine comments followed joint comments NMPF submitted Jan. 5 with the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP), the Academy of Veterinary Consultants (AVC), and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) on the draft FDA Guidance for Industry (GFI) #273 Defining Durations of Use for Approved Medically Important Antimicrobial Drugs Fed to Food-Producing Animals. In reviewing GFI #273, the groups identified several substantive concerns.

The group also referenced the agency back to extensive evidence-based comments previously submitted to earlier requests by the agency for public comments on this topic — specifically, the joint comments from AABP, AVC, NMPF and NCBA in 2017 and 2021, to include a request for information document with more than 80 scientific references.

NMPF Accepting Applications for 2024 Scholarship Program

February 05, 2024

NMPF is now accepting applications for its National Dairy Leadership Scholarship Program for the academic year 2024-2025.

NMPF awards scholarships annually to outstanding students enrolled in master’s or doctoral programs actively pursuing dairy-related fields of research of immediate interest to NMPF member cooperatives and the U.S. dairy industry at large.

Graduate students pursuing research that directly benefits milk marketing cooperatives and dairy producers are encouraged to apply. Applicants do not need to be members of NMPF to qualify. Scholarship recipients will be invited to present their research via webinar during the summer of 2024. Top applicants are eligible to be awarded the Hintz Memorial Scholarship, created in 2005 in honor of the late Cass-Clay Creamery Board Chairman Murray Hintz, who was instrumental in establishing NMPF’s scholarship program.

Recommended fields of study include but are not limited to Agriculture Communications and Journalism, Animal Health, Animal and/or Human Nutrition, Bovine Genetics, Dairy Products Processing, Dairy Science, Economics, Environmental Science, Food Science, Food Safety, Herd Management, and Marketing and Price Analysis.

Applications must be received no later than Friday, April 12, 2024. For an application or more information, please visit the NMPF website or email

Scholarships are funded through the National Dairy Leadership Scholarship Fund. If you would like to support the scholarship fund, please consider a donation here:

NICMA Elects New Officers, Concludes Successful 79th Annual Meeting

February 05, 2024

The National Ice Cream Mix Association (NICMA), a dairy industry trade organization managed by NMPF and led by its chief science officer, Dr. Jamie Jonker, held its 79th Annual Meeting Jan. 14-17 in Fort Lauderdale.

More than 60 attendees, speakers, and guests enjoyed three days of technical sessions covering topics from food safety, product trends and innovation, employee retention, socially responsible sourcing, regulatory issues, and industry economics. NICMA welcomed Boxes of St. Louis, Inc., and General Films as new Associate Members.

DMC Sign-up Begins as NMPF Calls for Farm Bill

March 05, 2024

NMPF welcomed USDA’s Feb. 23 announcement that this year’s sign-up period for the Dairy Margin Coverage program would open Feb. 28 and run through April 29. Payments began yesterday for payments triggered by January’s $8.48/cwt DMC margin.

The DMC program for 2024 is improved compared to past years, due to NMPF leadership. The one-year extension of the 2018 Farm Bill approved in December permanently incorporated the Supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage program into the underlying DMC. This important fix ensures that the 2019 production history update will move forward permanently with DMC and not need to be extended separately.

“Dairy farmers are pleased to finally have the certainty of knowing when the Dairy Margin Coverage program signup is beginning, and NMPF urges every dairy farmer to strongly consider signing up,” said Gregg Doud, NMPF president and CEO, in a statement. “We thank Congress for making this important change and are grateful for USDA’s work in rolling out this updated program for farmers.”

Still, the delay in DMC implementation – and its one-year nature – underscores the importance of approving a new farm bill, Doud said. Recent low producer margins show the critical importance of longer-term DMC reauthorization. NMPF is reaffirming its call for Congress to pass a five-year farm bill as quickly as possible. The House and Senate Agriculture Committees are continuing to develop their respective farm bill proposals.

“NMPF is eager to assist producers in any way they can with this program. We also look forward to working to ensure that farmers receive what they need even more – a new farm bill that provides certainty for the next several years, and not just 2024,” said Doud.

Dairy farmers who were enrolled in DMC in 2023 under a five-year lock-in contract received a 25 percent discount on their premiums. Those farmers will be eligible for the discount in 2024 as well. However, all dairy producers must still enroll during the 2024 DMC enrollment period.

For more NMPF resources related to the DMC program and federally backed risk management programs, visit here.

January DMC Margin Inches Up Just Four Cents Over December

March 05, 2024

The January Dairy Margin Coverage program margin remained mired below the $9.50/cwt maximum Tier 1 coverage level, gaining just 4 cents over December to come in at $8.48/cwt and generating a payment of $1.02/cwt for that maximum coverage.

The national average All-milk price in January dropped $0.50/cwt from December to $20.10/cwt, while a $0.54/cwt drop in the DMC feed cost calculation offset that decline to result in the margin’s small improvement. The feed-cost decline was mostly driven mostly by a falling soybean meal price, assisted by slightly lower corn and premium alfalfa hay prices.

End-of-February futures-based forecasts indicated that DMC margins would remain mostly above the $9.50/cwt maximum Tier 1 coverage level for the rest of 2024.

CWT Task Force Explores Program’s Future

March 05, 2024

NMPF’s task force of farmers and cooperative leaders met several times in recent weeks to consider a range of ideas as the program faces renewal this year.  The task force, formed earlier this year to consider how the CWT export assistance program should evolve in the future to better meet the needs of its members, is generating ideas to present a series of potential extensions of CWT’s current operations to the NMPF Board of Directors for consideration and approval.

Ideas discussed so far include support to develop new products in new markets, expand the range of products exported and sold in overseas markets, and improve the shipping and logistics capabilities needed to export U.S. dairy products.  The task force will continue to meet virtually in the spring to flesh out concepts and propose detailed proposals to the NMPF Board.

CWT February Committed Product Volume

NMPF Against Emissions Reporting for Manure under EPCRA

March 05, 2024

NMPF filed its own comments Feb. 13 and joined with other agriculture groups in coalition comments to EPA’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking weighing in on the reporting of air emissions from manure under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).

Both sets of comments assert that Congress, the emergency response community, animal agriculture groups and the Coast Guard think that reporting air emissions from manure under a statute designed to address serious, life-threatening chemical spills is ill-advised and unnecessary. NMPF also said reporting would invade farmers’ privacy and put them at risk of being targeted by activist groups such as the Animal Liberation Front, which has been labeled a terrorist organization by the FBI.

Air emissions reporting under EPCRA has been an ongoing battle. NMPF and other agriculture groups were able to quash the notion that ammonia and hydrogen sulfide from manure were reportable under EPCRA and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act through a legislative fix in 2018 and a regulatory fix in 2019.

In January 2021, the Biden Administration issued an Executive Order instructing EPA to review and rethink its regulations. Later that same year, EPA requested a court, where legal action was ongoing, to send the rule back for review without nullifying it so the rule would remain in effect while undergoing review.

The agency’s plan to revoke the exemption it granted in 2019 was abandoned after pushback from NMPF and other agriculture groups. NMPF is cautiously optimistic that the common-sense exemption will be retained. On Feb. 14, Representatives Nick Langworthy, R-NY, and Jim Costa, D-CA, led a letter signed by 44 of their colleagues urging EPA to retain the current exemption.

Ag Groups Oppose Proposed Rodenticide Policy Changes

March 05, 2024

NMPF and other agriculture groups submitted comments to EPA on Feb. 13 strongly opposing any policy in the “Draft Biological Evaluation for the Rodenticides and the Rodenticide Strategy” that involves making rodenticides restricted-use products.

NMPF and the agriculture groups strongly supported enhancing rodenticide stewardship to mitigate risks to non-target species while raising concerns about the effectiveness of EPA’s proposed strategy.

“We are deeply concerned that assumptions made and errors in the Agency’s analysis do not support the Agency’s finding that the rodenticides are likely to adversely affect even a single individual plant or animal,” the groups said in their comments.

The groups cautioned against designating rodenticide products as restricted-use items and warned of potential hazards on farms and ranches. The comments also emphasized the critical importance of maintaining effective and affordable rodent control measures to safeguard animal welfare and food safety while preventing substantial environmental and financial losses in grain and feed.

NMPF, alongside other farm groups including the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Pork Producers Council, emphasized EPA’s need to collaborate with rodenticide manufacturers and agricultural stakeholders to conduct comprehensive studies on how specific uses of rodenticides and potential pathways of exposure could adversely impact endangered species.

NMPF has actively participated in this issue for several years alongside fellow agriculture groups opposing the proposed rodenticide ban.

NMPF Represents U.S. Dairy at WTO Ministerial

March 05, 2024

NMPF Executive Vice President for Policy Development & Strategy Jaime Castaneda and Trade Policy Director Tony Rice advocated for U.S. dairy in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, Feb. 26-29, seeking improved market access and pro-dairy policies at the World Trade Organization Ministerial.

As a recognized non-government representative at the Ministerial, NMPF joined the U.S. Coalition for WTO Reform to advise U.S. government negotiators throughout the meeting, meet with the WTO Secretariat and likeminded delegations, and raise the profile of U.S. agricultural trade priorities.

Important issues at stake include:

  • Negotiations to reform the dispute settlement system.
  • The establishment of a work plan on agriculture that includes market access as a priority.
  • Pushing back against attempts to weaken WTO agricultural rules related to public stockholding subsidies and special safeguard mechanisms that would distort trade.

Castaneda also spoke at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce organized event on the importance of WTO dispute settlement reform and highlighted the outcomes that U.S. agriculture is prioritizing at the ministerial. Castaneda and Rice also met with U.S. Dairy Export Council international staff to receive the latest updates on barriers to trade in the Middle East and North Africa regions.

FARM Program Launches New Look, Features for Database

March 05, 2024

The FARM Program launched a new user interface for its database Feb. 20.

The FARM database is used by FARM Program evaluators and participant managers to conduct evaluations and track farm progress over time within the FARM Program Areas. The new database features allow FARM Program evaluators and managers to navigate dashboards more easily as well as manage certifications, farm data and action plans. A new search feature with enhanced filtering options streamlines users’ ability to find information.

FARM will host Zoom demo sessions for evaluators and managers to walk through the new site navigation and have their questions answered in real-time. FARM database users can access the database with their existing login credentials.

NMPF Letters Urge New Market Access

March 05, 2024

NMPF helped coordinate a pair of letters in February urging policymakers to prioritize new market access, as U.S. agriculture continues to lag behind competitors in the global economy.

NMPF, USDEC and other agricultural organizations signed a Feb. 15 letter to Congress that detailed how the lack of new market access is threatening food and agriculture industry profitability. The letter called for Congress to work with and press the current and future Administrations to open more doors for U.S. agriculture exports.

Meanwhile, the newly launched Ag Trade Caucus, created by Farmers for Free Trade with support from NMPF, sent a Feb. 20 letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, urging the administration to continue to pursue agreements that address the trade barriers that are most harmful to U.S. dairy.

NMPF Testifies on Common Names

March 05, 2024

NMPF Executive Vice President for Policy Development & Strategy Jaime Castaneda testified on the need for greater action from the U.S. government to proactively negotiate common names protections with trading partners, during a Feb. 21 hearing hosted by the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office.

The hearing highlighted the agency’s annual Special 301 process, which seeks to identify intellectual property trade abuses around the world and set up USTR’s IP priorities for the following year.

NMPF and USDEC submitted joint comments in January that complemented a more comprehensive submission from the Consortium for Common Food Names. All three organizations emphasized the urgency of the issue and highlighted the damage done to American cheesemakers when they are not allowed to use the generic terms that consumers have known and loved for generations.

NMPF FMMO Modernization Comments Put Farmers First

April 03, 2024

NMPF, the largest U.S. dairy-farmer organization and the industry’s premier policy voice in Washington, submitted its final, formal legal “brief” on their behalf for Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) modernization to the USDA on March 29.

The NMPF brief emphasized that those farmers are the reason the system exists — and that, by law, their priorities are pre-eminent in USDA consideration of a final plan.

“Our proposed package of proposals to the Federal Milk Marketing Order align perfectly with its mission and purpose, which were designed and intended to put farmers first,” said Gregg Doud, president and CEO of NMPF. “We’ve spent nearly three years painstakingly assembling the broad consensus among dairy farmers that modernization of the system needs to succeed. Our approach is careful and comprehensive, and it benefits farmers of all regions and types of operations.”

NMPF’s proposals include:

  • Returning to the “higher of” Class I mover;
  • Discontinuing the use of barrel cheese in the protein component price formula;
  • Extending the current 30-day reporting limit to 45 days on forward priced sales on nonfat dry milk and dry whey to capture more exports sales in the USDA product price reporting;
  • Updating milk component factors for protein, other solids and nonfat solids in the Class III and Class IV skim milk price formulas;
  • Developing a process to ensure make-allowances are reviewed more frequently through legislation directing USDA to conduct mandatory plant-cost studies every two years;
  • Updating dairy product manufacturing allowances contained in the USDA milk price formulas; and
  • Updating the Class I differential price system to reflect changes in the cost of delivering bulk milk to fluid processing plants.

In contrast to proposals driven by narrow self-interest, NMPF’s package of proposals reflect its broad-based membership and consensus-driven approach, which resulted in unanimous approval from its Board of Directors last year. With that unity unbroken, Doud said he looked forward to USDA’s consideration of NMPF’s solid hearing record which was built along with its recently submitted brief, as well as the department’s recommended decision expected at the beginning of July.

“NMPF has taken seriously its role as the policy leader for U.S. dairy farmers and the cooperatives they own, and we continue to draw on the strength of our members,” he said. “Today we’ve taken another big step toward modernization. We continue to look forward to its successful conclusion.”

NMPF, FARM Respond to Avian Influenza Cases with Information, Guidance

April 03, 2024

NMPF and the FARM Program helped guide dairy farmers through an emerging biosecurity concern with timely, accurate information and industry-leading resources as the first cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) appeared in U.S. dairy cattle.

While the scope of bird flu in dairy is limited – a handful of cases scatted among several states – and no risk is being posed toward consumers, the new challenge has galvanized the industry toward identifying best practices in containing illness and minimizing impacts on dairy farmers and processors, with NMPF serving as a central information resource and FARM Biosecurity proving its value as an essential resource for farmers and dairy companies.

NMPF Chief Science Officer Dr. Jamie Jonker served as a leading industry expert and spokesperson shortly after the first USDA confirmation of HPAI in Texas dairy cattle March 25. Working with Senior Director of Communications Theresa Murphy, NMPF began crafting member alerts offering resources and information to farmers the previous week. Since then, NMPF has released five more alerts and created a web page dedicated to bird flu information, complementing the FARM Program’s Biosecurity page as a critical resource to manage bird flu-related challenges.

Jonker also led an April 1 NMPF member and FARM participant webinar on the topic that also featured Dr. Mark Lyons from USDA and Dr. Fred Gingrich from the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, giving the latest information on the fast-moving situation. The webinar attracted 1,380 registrants and will be followed up by more informational sessions in the future.

NMPF members and FARM Program participants with questions on HPAI should contact Dr. Jonker at

February DMC Margin Gains Nearly $1/cwt Over January

April 03, 2024

The February margin under the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program rose by $0.96/cwt from a month earlier to $9.44/cwt, triggering a payment of $0.06/cwt for coverage at the $9.50/cwt maximum Tier 1 level.

The rise was due to a $0.50/cwt increase in the February U.S. average all-milk price to $20.60/cwt, and a $0.46/cwt drop in the DMC feed cost formula, mostly as a result of lower corn prices.

Futures-based forecasts at the end of March indicated that DMC margins would remain mostly above the $9.50/cwt maximum Tier 1 coverage level during the remainder of the current calendar year, with possible brief dips below this level in late spring.

NMPF Secures Policy and Funding Wins in Final Ag Spending Deal

April 03, 2024

NMPF worked closely with Congress on several key provisions of a spending bill, ranging from school milk to broadband access, that were included this year’s appropriations for the USDA and FDA that President Biden signed into law March 9.

Among the law’s highlights for dairy is legislative language supporting the consumption of milk and dairy products.

  • The bill requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow 1% and fat-free flavored milk to be offered at all grade levels, not just in high school, when it finalizes its upcoming school nutrition standards rulemaking;
  • It prevents the final school nutrition rule from limiting sodium, which is often added to cheese for functional purposes, in a manner more restrictive than the Target 2 sodium levels published in USDA’s 2012 school meals rule; and
  • The explanatory statement accompanying the bill directs USDA not to reduce the maximum monthly milk allowance under the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program as it finalizes updates to the WIC foods package.

The enacted measure also funds numerous important agriculture programs. Dairy highlights include:

  • $90 million for the ReConnect program, the USDA Rural Development program working to provide broadband service to eligible rural areas;
  • $12 million for the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives program, which provides direct technical assistance and grants to dairy businesses to further the development, production, marketing, and distribution of dairy products;
  • $10 million for the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network, a USDA program aimed at connecting those working in agriculture to stress assistance and support programs; and
  • $3 million for the Healthy Fluid Milk Incentives Projects authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill to create pilot programs to increase milk consumption among SNAP households.

In addition to what the bill offers, the final bill does not include funding for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) pilot projects limited to “nutrient dense” foods as defined by the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans. NMPF advocated against this provision, as whole and reduced-fat (2%) milk would not have been able to be included in the pilots because the current guidelines only recommend consumption of low-fat and fat-free milk varieties.

CWT Task Force Assesses Member Export Capabilities

April 03, 2024

The task force of farmers and cooperative leaders leading the initiative to renew Cooperatives Working Together in late March issued a survey to NMPF’s members seeking data about the products they manufacture, and also feedback on the value of CWT to their organization and the broader dairy community.

The task force, formed earlier this year to consider how the CWT program should evolve in the future to better meet the needs of its members, is generating ideas to present a series of potential extensions of CWT’s current operations to the NMPF Board of Directors for approval. The survey sent to NMPF cooperatives CEOs seeks information about the type and volume of products manufactured by the membership. The resulting data will be analyzed to assess the potential for expanding the range of products that CWT supports.

Other ideas for CWT’s future activities include expanding the demand for new and different products in foreign markets and improving the collective logistics efficiencies of members’ supply chain processes. The task force will continue to meet virtually to refine these concepts and propose detailed proposals to the NMPF Board.

March CWT-Assisted Export Sales Total 9.5 Million Pounds

CWT member cooperatives secured over 70 contracts in March, adding 9.5 million pounds of product to CWT-assisted sales in 2024. In milk equivalent, this is equal to 96.9 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. These products will go to customers in Asia, Central America, the Caribbean, Middle East-North Africa, Oceania and South America and will be shipped from March through August 2024.

Exporting dairy products is critical to the viability of dairy farmers and their cooperatives across the country. Whether or not a cooperative is actively engaged in exporting cheese, butter, anhydrous milkfat, cream cheese, or whole milk powder, moving products into world markets is essential. CWT provides a means to move domestic dairy products to overseas markets by helping to overcome U.S. dairy’s trade disadvantages.

The amounts of dairy products and related milk volumes reflect current contracts for delivery, not completed export volumes. CWT will pay export assistance to the bidders only when export and delivery of the product is verified by the submission of the required documentation.

NMPF Shapes Supply Chain Policies

April 03, 2024

The House passed the bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Implementation Act of 2023, a key NMF trade-policy priority, on Mar. 21 by unanimous consent.

Led by Reps. Dusty Johnson, R-SD, and John Garamendi, D-CA, the legislation would update supply chain data standards, establish reciprocal trade as part of the Federal Maritime Commission’s mission in enforcing the Shipping Act, and introduce a formal process to report complaints against certain shipping exchanges. NMPF and USDEC endorsed the legislation to help provide greater supply chain transparency and reliability for dairy exporters.

The bill complements the Federal Maritime Commission’s Feb. 23 publication of its final rule on detention and demurrage billing practices, which incorporates several recommendations made by NMPF and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC).

As an important part of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA) implementation – which NMPF championed – the final rule requires common carriers and marine terminal operators to:

  • Include specific minimum information on demurrage and detention invoices;
  • Outline certain detention and demurrage billing practices, such as determination of which parties may appropriately be billed for demurrage or detention charges; and
  • Set timeframes for issuing invoices.

NMPF Welcomes House Ag Labor Working Group Final Report, Calls for Legislative Action

April 03, 2024

NMPF lauded the House Agriculture Committee’s March 7 release of its bipartisan Agriculture Labor Working Group’s final report. The final recommendations represent the culmination of nearly nine months of discussions among working group members and stakeholders, including NMPF.

NMPF specifically commended working group members for unanimously supporting opening the H-2A agricultural visa program to dairy farmers and other year-round employers. NMPF staff had previously briefed the working group on dairy’s workforce needs and served as the dairy industry policy resource during the drafting of the group’s initial report, which was released last November.

“We commend the House Agriculture Committee and its Ag Labor Working Group for forging ahead and reaching agreement on recommendations to make badly needed reforms to our nation’s H-2A agricultural visa program,” said NMPF president and CEO Gregg Doud in a statement.  “We are especially grateful for the working group’s unanimous support for allowing dairy farmers and other year-round employers long-sought access to the program.”.

Election-year dynamics create a difficult climate for ag labor legislation, but NMPF hopes that the bipartisan consensus reached in the final report can help set the table for any possible opportunity to address dairy’s workforce concerns of accessing H-2A and protecting dairy’s current workers and their families.

“Dairy’s workforce needs remain dire, and we urge Congress to heed the Ag Labor Working Group’s strong recommendation,” said Doud.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman GT Thompson, R-PA, and Ranking Member David Scott, D-GA, formally launched the Agriculture Labor Working Group last June. Thompson and Scott deputized committee members Reps. Rick Crawford, R-AR, and Don Davis, D-NC, to spearhead the working group.

“Again, thanks to the committee and to its leadership, Chairman GT Thompson, R-PA, and Ranking Member David Scott, D-GA, as well as Working Group co-chairs Reps. Rick Crawford, R-AR, and Don Davis, D-NC, for their bipartisan leadership in this important and timely effort,” said Doud.

NMPF Presses USTR on Trade Barriers, New Markets

April 03, 2024

The U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) annual National Trade Estimate (NTE) report released Mar. 29 highlights several trade barrier and market access priorities that NMPF and USDEC have pointed out to the agency.

In Oct. 23 comments submitted to USTR as it developed the document, NMPF and USDEC detailed how the United States’ ongoing lack of new tariff-reducing trade agreements and uneven enforcement of existing agreements has put the U.S. dairy industry at a competitive disadvantage. The comments also summarized country-specific barriers that governments around the world are using to impede U.S. dairy exports.

Several of those nontariff barrier concerns were captured in the trade estimate as priorities for USTR, including:

  • Canada’s trade-restrictive administration of its U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement dairy tariff-rate-quotas,
  • Resolving Egypt’s protectionist and inconsistent Halal requirements,
  • Finding a solution for Indonesia’s facility registration delays,
  • Complex EU regulatory requirements that risk clogging trade flows.

FARM Prepares for Workforce Development Updates, Launches Sustainability Resource

April 03, 2024

The National Dairy FARM Program is preparing for version updates and new resources across multiple program areas. The FARM Workforce Development (WFD) Program made strides in March toward its evaluation tool Version 2 updates, and the FARM Environmental Stewardship (ES) Program launched a new database for sustainability resources.

The NMPF Board of Directors in March approved minor adjustments to the FARM WFD evaluation tool. The evaluation is restructured to better group questions of similar themes and contains seven additional questions to further strengthen the evaluation. The updated evaluation, FARM WFD Version 2, will launch July 1. FARM will offer updated trainings and resources for FARM evaluators and farmers who participate in the program.

The voluntary FARM WFD evaluation addresses best management practices that can enhance HR and safety management. Dairy cooperatives and processors can use the program to provide customer assurances around farm-level labor topics.

FARM ES published a comprehensive database of funding opportunities and sustainability resources for dairy producers. It was developed with support from SCS Consulting and is available for free on the FARM Program website. The library contains financial resources, including grants, cost-share, loan programs and other incentives.

Users can navigate through government, nonprofit, extension, state planning tools and other resources via filters by state, level of funding assistance, type of assistance, etc. The FARM Program will continue to incorporate new features throughout the year.