NMPF Eager for Next Steps in Milk Marketing Modernization with USDA “Action Plan”

June 08, 2023

NMPF’s two-year effort toward Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) modernization achieved a significant milestone June 1, when USDA released its proposed “Action Plan” to move toward a national hearing based on the organization’s proposal to update to FMMO system to benefit farmers, the cooperatives they own and the broader industry.

The next phase of creating a federal order system that better reflects today’s market conditions and dairy producer needs begins with an informational hearing June 16 that should serve as a prelude to a full formal hearing in late August, according to the plan. Should the entire process go smoothly, an updated FMMO system could be actively benefiting farmers in late 2024.

“We’re gratified that USDA recognizes the comprehensive nature of our proposal and are looking forward to it being considered in full, because the whole of our plan adds up to more than the sum of its individual parts,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “We will bring the same level of dedication and preparation to this part of the process that we did in drafting our own plan, which included more than 150 meetings and wide consultation across dairy producers and the entire industry.”

NMPF’s Federal Milk Marketing Order proposal, detailed here, offers comprehensive solutions that recognize the needs of today’s dynamic industry. While the complexity of the process will require detailed discussions, the unity seen among dairy producers supporting NMPF’s proposal, which the organization’s Board of Directors approved unanimously, puts adoption on a positive path moving forward, since producers vote for Federal Orders, Mulhern said.

Randy Mooney, NMPF chairman and a dairy farmer near Rogersville, MO, called the proposal’s strong momentum a testament to the power of dairy farmers, through their cooperatives, to undertake bold initiatives that advance their industry. Farmers will continue to lead as modernization moves forward, Mooney said.

“Dairy producers have proven throughout this process that, with unity and careful attention to each other’s needs, we can achieve impressive things,” he said.  “Dairy’s strength comes from its farms, and producers ready to face challenges and seize opportunities. We’re excited to begin the formal hearing process.”

Jim Mulhern to Retire as NMPF CEO; Gregg Doud Named Successor

June 08, 2023

NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern announced Tuesday he will retire from his position at the end of this year, concluding a decade of service leading the organization and capping a 45-year career in U.S. agricultural and dairy policy. Gregg Doud, a globally recognized agricultural leader and former Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the U.S. Office of the Trade Representative, was named his replacement by NMPF’s Board of Directors later that day.

“Directing the policy efforts of the nation’s dairy farmers and their cooperatives has been the highlight of my professional career,” said Mulhern, who was asked to lead the organization in 2013 and guided NMPF through two completed farm bills, the .COVID-19 crisis, and an ever-quickening pace of change in an industry that in some ways is unrecognizable from that he entered in 1979, when he began his career working for a Midwest dairy cooperative.

Mulhern leaves NMPF in a commanding position, with the organization spearheading a once-a-generation update of federal milk marketing orders and advancing both a fairer economic and regulatory environment for dairy farmers and a more transparent marketplace for consumers amid the proliferation of plant-based dairy imposters. Through its partnerships with the U.S. Dairy Export Council and others, NMPF has supported policy changes to boost dairy exports, which are reaching records; and through its stewardship of the National Dairy FARM Program, it is enhancing dairy’s leadership agricultural sustainability and animal care.

“Dairy farmers have numerous reasons to be thankful for Jim Mulhern’s leadership at NMPF,” said NMPF Board of Directors Chairman Randy Mooney. “Jim has been a leader, a visionary, and a friend to dairy, and through that, a leader in agriculture. The combination of his depth of knowledge, his energy, and his unflagging passion for dairy producers is impossible to replace, but we all will know that his influence and achievements will resonate in this industry for years to come.”

Doud has served in numerous leadership roles in trade association and government work in his more than 30-year career in agricultural policy and economics, most recently at Aimpoint Research, a global intelligence firm specializing in agriculture and food. As Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the U.S. Office of the Trade Representative, from 2018-2021, he led numerous successful efforts to create a fair, prosperous environment for U.S. agricultural exports, including the U.S.-China “Phase One” agreement and the USMCA negotiations.

Before that role, he served as president of the Commodity Markets Council, a trade association for commodities exchanges and industry counterparts; as senior professional staff on the Senate Agriculture Committee; and as chief economist for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, among other roles.

Doud said that as the organization’s next leader, he’s excited to engage on critical issues facing dairy farmers. “From the policy arena to new technologies, there are many great new opportunities for dairy producers at home and internationally,” he said. “It is a tremendous privilege to have the opportunity in these exciting times to lead NMPF, one of Washington’s oldest, most prestigious and well-respected agricultural trade associations.”

Doud was born and raised on a 1,000-acre grain, hog and cattle farm near Mankato, KS. He is a graduate of Kansas State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a master’s in agricultural economics. He remains actively engaged in production agriculture through partnership in a cow-calf operation and lives with his wife and two children on their horse farm in Lothian, MD.

Doud will begin official work at NMPF in September as its chief operating officer before assuming the role of president and CEO upon Mulhern’s retirement.

“Dairy farmers across the nation are pleased to endorse a true champion of agriculture, someone who both understands the hard work we do and the opportunities and challenges we face both here and abroad,” Mooney said. “NMPF has long been blessed with leadership that’s been able to take its advocacy for dairy to a higher level. We strongly believe that Gregg Doud more than amply provides the expertise, the background, and the passion we will need as we navigate a challenging, but promising, new era.”

NMPF Board of Directors Approves Comprehensive Farm Bill Recommendations

June 08, 2023

NMPF’s Board of Directors approved June 7 a suite of farm bill policy priorities covering the commodities, conservation, trade, and nutrition titles, working to enhance federal support for producers and expand access to nutritious dairy products for consumers at home and abroad.

With the current farm bill set to expire Sept. 30, Congress is working to enact a new bipartisan five-year farm bill.  NMPF’s recommendations will aid in enacting an on-time farm bill that provides dairy producers the certainty they need as they manage their risks and resources while seeking market opportunities at home and abroad.

“The farm bill is crucial both to dairy farmers seeking to effectively manage their risk and to the consumers who benefit from the nutritious products dairy farmers work every to provide,” said Randy Mooney, chairman of NMPF’s board. “We stand ready to work with lawmakers as they craft this complex, extremely important legislation that touches everyone.’

In the Commodities title:

NMPF seeks to build on its successes in the last farm bill to strengthen the dairy safety net and provide producers with access to a range of risk management tools.  NMPF’s board voted to support continuing the Dairy Margin Coverage safety net while updating the program’s production history calculation.  The board also voted to prioritize improving the Livestock Gross Margin-Dairy and Dairy-Revenue Protection programs should new funding become available.

The board also voted to seek farm bill language to direct USDA to conduct mandatory plant cost studies every two years to provide better data to inform future make allowance reviews, a goal NMPF is also pursuing through its Federal Milk Marketing Order initiative via the USDA hearing process announced last week. Similarly, the board also voted to pursue restoring the previous “higher of” Class I mover in the most expeditious manner possible, either administratively via the FMMO process or legislatively through the farm bill, in which the mover was last change in 2018.

In the Conservation title:

NMPF is advocating for policies that better position the dairy industry to meet its voluntary, producer-led goal of becoming greenhouse gas neutral or better by 2050. NMPF’s board voted to support maintaining robust funding for voluntary conservation programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program that supports dairy farmers in their ongoing land and water resource management efforts, with additional emphasis on feed and manure management both of which are major areas of opportunity in sustainability  The board also voted to seek relief from program payment limitations that prevent the family farmers that produce most of the nation’s milk supply from fully using these programs.

In the Trade title:

NMPF will support policies recognizing the growing importance of trade for U.S. dairy, with exports accounting for one-sixth milk of all U.S. milk production, a share expected to grow. NMPF’s board voted to support enhancing funding for trade promotion programs like the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development program, which promote American-made dairy and agriculture products that compete with heavily subsidized foreign products and return well over $20 in export revenue for every dollar invested.

The NMPF board also voted to seek language to protect common food names, as embodied in the bipartisan, bicameral SAVE Act that would establish an official list of common food and beverage names and direct USDA and the U.S. Trade Representative to prioritize this issue in international trade negotiations.

In the Nutrition title:

NMPF will support policies that reflect dairy’s role as an excellent source of 13 essential nutrients, some of which are under-consumed, according to the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is vital to linking the food we produce as farmers to families across the country facing difficult circumstances.  NMPF’s board voted to support the enhancement of federal nutrition programs to provide nutritious dairy products to beneficiaries.  NMPF also supports the bipartisan Dairy Nutrition Incentives Program introduced in the Senate to encourage SNAP participants to choose healthful dairy products at the grocery store.

Young Cooperators Advocate for Dairy’s Priorities on Capitol Hill

June 08, 2023

Young dairy farmer leaders from throughout the U.S. met in Washington, D.C. June 5-6 for the National Young Cooperators (YC) Program’s annual Dairy Policy and Legislative Forum, held in conjunction with NMPF’s June Board of Directors meeting.

Forty-nine young and beginning dairy farmers from 21 states and representing ten member cooperatives participated in the two-day event, which included discussions about political engagement and dairy policy issues, along with training on how to be an effective advocate and spokesperson for dairy. YCs then headed to Capitol Hill to speak with members of Congress and their staffs about NMPF priorities including farm bill programs, dairy labeling, common cheese names and market access funding.

“NMPF’s effectiveness in Congress depends heavily on grassroots engagement. With fewer people than ever directly involved in dairy, farmers must continue to punch above their weight to maintain relevance in an increasingly urban Congress,” said Theresa Murphy, YC Program director for NMPF “NMPF’s National YC Program equips them to do just that, providing opportunities to learn background information about the many issues affecting the industry, and empowering them to become—and stay—politically engaged.”

“It’s really important to have our voices heard,” said Lorilee Schultz, this year’s YC chairwoman, in a Dairy Defined Podcast released before the fly-in. “I just want to encourage everybody to know that they can be involved in leadership and make a difference.”

Speakers for this year’s event included Congressman David Valadao, R-CA, Congress’ only dairy farmer and a former YC. Rep. Valadao shared what sparked his interest in politics, how he’s developed as a leader since first being elected to Congress in 2013, why it’s important that dairy farmers are politically engaged, and what he thinks dairy’s biggest challenges will be in the next few years and beyond

YCs also had the opportunity to hear from NMPF Chairman Randy Mooney, a Missouri dairy farmer, about his leadership experience. Mooney shared how he got started, what inspired him to seek out leadership roles and how the skills he’s developed and experiences he’s had as chairman of NMPF and Dairy Farmers of America have enhanced his life.

Since 1950, the National YC Program has provided emerging dairy leaders with a better understanding of issues facing farmers and their cooperatives. The program is open to younger and beginning dairy farmers who own or are employed on a dairy farm that is a member of one of NMPF’s member cooperatives. Click here and check the National YC Program box to stay up to date on program activities.

NMPF to EPA on WOTUS: We Told You So!

June 08, 2023

The Supreme Court on May 25 handed EPA a devastating ruling, restricting its jurisdiction over Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS), a move agricultural groups and landowners are praising and that NMPF predicted in earlier statements.

The court’s 5-4 decision was led by the conservative justices and featured three other concurring opinions that agreed with the outcome but differed in how to reach the conclusion that the Sackett property was not subject to the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction. Moving forward, federal jurisdiction will be limited to traditional navigable waters and adjacent wetlands with continuous surface connection to those waters.

NMPF released a statement on EPA’s new WOTUS rule in January which said that “NMPF is disappointed that once again dairy farmers, who every day strive to be leaders in environmental stewardship, may need to live under a WOTUS rule that is cumbersome, unclear and overly complicated. Because the EPA’s most recent iteration fails to resolve what is now a 50-year struggle to define what constitutes a water body subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act, our members will face continued uncertainty as they attempt to comprehend and comply with unclear regulations.”

NMPF also repeatedly told EPA not to issue any rule until the Supreme Court ruled on Sackett v. EPA this year because of the high likelihood that the Supreme Court decision would alter any new WOTUS rule. The only surprise, one shared by many in agriculture, was how forcefully the court’s decision limited EPA’s authority.

While it is clear that the new WOTUS rule is essentially dead, the mechanism for how that will occur is yet to be determined, as EPA can either withdraw the rule on its own or a federal court judge with WOTUS cases before them can throw out the rule. In either case, EPA will certainly write yet another WOTUS rule, one expected to be seen more favorably in agriculture given the narrowed scope created by the Sackett ruling.

DMC Margin Drops Below $6 in April

June 08, 2023

The April Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) margin dropped by $0.25/cwt from a month earlier to $5.84/cwt, the first time the margin fell below $6 since August 2021. The April all-milk price was $20.70/cwt, down $0.40/cwt from March, while the DMC feed price was down for the month by $0.15/cwt, due entirely to a lower soybean meal price. The April payment for maximum Tier 1 coverage at the $9.50/cwt level will be $3.42/cwt. T

Available forecasts continue to indicate that monthly DMC margins will stubbornly remain around $6 into the summer and then slowly rise during the second half of the year, not topping $9.50/cwt until November.

NMPF-Led Common Names Legislation Introduced in Congress

June 08, 2023

NMPF, working in collaboration with the Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), spurred the May 17 introduction of the bipartisan Safeguarding American Value-Added Exports (SAVE) Act, a milestone in the organizations’ efforts to preserve common cheese names in export markets around the world.

Outlined and supported by NMPF, CCFN and USDEC, the SAVE Act would amend the Agricultural Trade Act of 1978 in two keys ways by:

  • Explicitly defining “common names” as a term ordinarily used for marketing a food product, as determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA);
  • Defining foreign restrictions of those common names as an unfair trade practice; and
  • Directing USDA to “coordinate with the U.S. Trade Representative to proactively defend the right to use common names for agricultural commodities or food products in their markets” through various negotiating tools.

The legislation calls for USDA and USTR to use bilateral, plurilateral, or multilateral agreements, memoranda of understanding, and other instruments to ensure that American dairy and other agricultural producers will be able to use the common names in food and beverage exports.

Led in the Senate by Sens. John Thune, R-SD, Tammy Baldwin, D-WI, Roger Marshall, R-KS, and Tina Smith, D-MN, and in the House by Reps. Dusty Johnson, R-SD, Jim Costa, D-CA, Michelle Fischbach, R-MN, and Jimmy Panetta, D-CA,, NMPF plans to work with the bill’s leads to ensure the legislative text is captured in the Farm Bill. That would mark the first farm bill effort on common names.

Given the outsized impact that illegitimate geographical indications have on American cheesemakers, the SAVE Act signifies a much-needed development that would benefit the U.S. dairy industry should it become law. NMPF will continue to work with its allied organizations and supporting members to ensure passage of this important new tool.

NMPF Urges Trade-Compliant Approach to New USDA Country of Origin Labeling Rule

June 08, 2023

NMPF encouraged the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service office to ensure that a newly proposed Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) rule does not result in Mexican and Canadian retaliatory tariffs on the U.S. dairy industry in comments filed May 11 on the proposal.

The proposed rule would allow the voluntary use of “Product of USA” or “Made in the USA,” only if the meat, poultry and egg products are derived from animals born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the United States. Prior U.S. mandatory country of origin rules on beef and pork were found to violate World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, resulting in WTO-authorized tariff retaliation rights that included U.S. dairy exports to Mexico and Canada. While USDA’s proposed rule would be voluntary, NMPF made clear it must be written in a way that ensures compliance with WTO and U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement commitments.

NMPF warned that should the rule undermine imports to the United States, both Mexico and Canada could impose retaliatory tariffs that would significantly harm American dairy farmers and producers.

NMPF Sends Joint Letter to HHS, USDA Secretaries Urging Inclusion of Dairy Fats Science

June 08, 2023

NMPF and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) sent a joint letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on May 9 calling for the inclusion of the growing body of science studying dairy fats in the 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) review.

Several scientific research studies, including multiple meta-analyses, demonstrate that dairy foods, regardless of fat level, appear to have neutral or beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, stroke and other conditions.

The committee, which held its second public meeting on May 10, will use three approaches to examine the evidence used to answer the scientific questions: systematic reviews, food pattern modeling and data analysis. NMPF and IDFA state in the letter, “NMPF and IDFA hope this committee won’t default to the overly broad recommendation to avoid saturated fats regardless of food source. This would fail to answer the 2025 proposed scientific question and, equally important, it would fail to address the 2020 DGAC report’s directive. We strongly urge the committee to develop protocols that will enable it to answer the question about specific food sources of saturated fat, including consideration of the recent science on dairy fats.”

NMPF Protecting Dairy in School Nutrition Programs

June 08, 2023

NMPF submitted comments on May 10 advocating for continuing to serve low-fat flavored milk in addition to fat-free varieties for all grade levels and highlighting the role milk, cheese and yogurt play in making school meals the healthiest meals children consume.

The comments were in response to a proposed rule USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) published Feb. 7 to update school meal standards, intended to take effect beginning with the 2024-2025 school year. This proposed rule is the latest step FNS has taken to update school meal standards dating to passage of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act in 2010.

The proposed rule continues to allow low-fat flavored milk in school meals, but potentially in a more limited fashion. FNS puts forward two different options for flavored milk in its proposed rule, requesting input on both options. The first would allow low-fat and fat-free flavored milk for either grades 6-12 or 9-12 only. The second would maintain current standards, allowing low-fat and fat-free flavored milk for all grade levels. The proposal also puts forward added sugar and sodium limits that will be phased into school meals in future school years, both of which could limit varieties of school milk, yogurt, and cheese that can be served in school meal programs.

Since 2010, multiple USDA rulemakings have intended to make school meals healthier, with NMPF working hard to ensure that changes don’t inadvertently reduce kids’ actual diet quality and nutrient intake. This includes NMPF’s leading role in getting USDA to reinstate the low-fat flavored milk option in school meal programs after its removal by a 2012 rule. NMPF’s work here includes working closely with Chairman GT Thompson, R-PA, and Representative Joe Courtney, D-CT, over multiple congresses on their School Milk Nutrition Act, which would guarantee that schools have the choice to serve any milk variety consistent with federal dietary guidelines.

To further support school meals, NMPF and IDFA submitted joint comments May 8 on the proposed rule, “Child Nutrition Programs: Community Eligibility Provisions – Increasing Options for Schools” supporting lowering the percentage of enrolled students certified for free school meals without submitting a household application from 40% to 25%. As noted in the preamble to the rule proposing the change, a study showed that schools that implemented the community eligibility provision (CEP) attained participation rates about 7 percent higher for lunch and 12 percent higher for breakfast, compared to similar schools that did not choose the provision.

Providing healthy meals to all students helps address longstanding inequities based on race, income and other factors that contribute to disparities of nutritional intakes and health outcomes.

Recording Available for Eurofins Webinar on new rBST Testing Method

June 08, 2023

NMPF hosted a webinar May 25 on a new rBST testing method featuring Eurofins’ Senior Applications Scientist, Sarah King, and Vice President of Business Development, Dino Holmquist. Sarah and Dino provided an overview of how the method works and answered questions about the test’s capabilities.

The testing method, developed by Eurofins, detects a peptide of the recombinant protein. The peptide is detected utilizing liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometer (LC-MS/MS). This state-of-the-art technology allows for sensitive and accurate detection of rBST at concentrations lower than 0.001%. Many dairy companies state on their labels that the product is “rBST-free” without any scientific data to support this claim. This new testing offers an interesting opportunity while raising many questions about how it can be implemented and what the implications may be. The recording can be watched here with the passcode #hBv7QJ2.

May CWT-Assisted Dairy Export Sales Totaled 5 Million Pounds

June 08, 2023

CWT member cooperatives secured 41 contracts in May, adding 4.1 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 99,000 pounds of butter, 88,000 pounds of whole milk powder and 717,000 pounds of cream cheese to CWT-assisted sales in 2023.

In milk equivalent, this is equal to 46.3 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. These products will go to customers in Asia, Central America, the Caribbean, Oceania, South America and Middle East-North Africa, and will be shipped from May through November 2023.

CWT-assisted 2023 dairy product sales contracts year-to-date total 19.7 million pounds of American-type cheese, 594,000 pounds of butter, 24.6 million pounds of whole milk powder, 4.1 million pounds of cream cheese and 2,000 pounds of anhydrous milkfat. This brings the total milk equivalent for the year to 407.6 million pounds on a milkfat basis.

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.