NMPF’s Cain on USDA’s FMMO Hearing


USDA’s Federal Milk Marketing Order modernization hearing begins Wednesday and dairy farmers are eager to be part of the process. National Milk Producers Federation Director of Economic Research and Analysis, Stephen Cain, says there is a lot of ground to cover. “We’ve developed a big package that we think is going to help the U.S. dairy farmer,” Cain told the National Association of Farm Broadcasters.

NMPF’s Galen on Farm Bill Progress

NMPF Senior Vice President Chris Galen discusses the state of play in the upcoming farm bill on Dairy Radio Now.  Current spending debates are slowing progress on the five-year reauthorization of USDA programs, which include nutrition assistance and commodity payments. The current law expires Sept. 30 — because many commodity programs, including dairy, run on a calendar-year basis, any threat of near-term disruption is limited, Galen said.

NMPF Board of Directors Approves Comprehensive Farm Bill Recommendations

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 and a dairy farmer outside Rogersville, MO. “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. This would complement the near-term make allowance update NMPF is 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 changed 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.


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

ARLINGTON, VA – The National Milk Producers Federation applauds USDA for today proposing its “Action Plan” to move toward a national hearing based on NMPF’s proposal to modernize the Federal Milk Marketing Orders. The largest representative of U.S. dairy farmers and farmer-owned dairy processors is eager to begin the next phase of creating a federal order system that better reflects today’s market conditions and dairy producer needs.

“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 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.”

NMPF’s Bjerga on Growing Momentum for FMMO Modernization


NMPF Senior Vice President of Communications Alan Bjerga discusses how the support of the American Farm Bureau Federation is a powerful statement of farmer consensus for NMPF’s Federal Milk Marketing Order modernization plan currently before USDA. Bjerga also talks about the industry’s active discussions on fighting misinformation about dairy, in an interview with RFD-TV’s Christina Loren.

A Critical Moment Arrives on the FMMO Scene

By Jim Mulhern, President and CEO, NMPF

Jim Mulhern, NMPF President and CEO

The march to milk-pricing modernization reached another milestone this month, as the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) submitted to USDA our comprehensive proposal for Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) reform.

After more than 150 meetings over nearly two years, a strong consensus has emerged among producers and our allies for changes that hold benefits for farmers of all sizes, in all regions, and for the broader industry that, together with producers, serves wholesome, nutritious products to consumers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

A lot of work has gone into this effort. We have examined the program in great detail and came up with a plan that modernizes and updates Federal Milk Marketing Orders so they can work better for today’s dairy industry.

Some key highlights:

  • Returning to the “higher of” Class I mover.
  • Discontinuing the use of barrel cheese in the protein component price formula.
  • Updating milk component factors for protein, other solids, and nonfat solids in the Class III and Class IV skim milk price formulas.
  • Updating the Class I differential price system to reflect changes in the cost of delivering bulk milk to fluid processing plants.
  • Updating dairy product manufacturing allowances contained in the USDA 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.
  • Extending the current 30-day reporting limit to 45 days on forward-priced sales on nonfat dry milk and dry whey to capture more export sales in the USDA product price reporting.

The first five of these are part of our proposal before USDA. We’re seeking the make-allowance review via the farm bill and the forward-pricing plan through separate federal rulemaking.

The components work together

It’s important to note how much the elements of our proposal rely on one another to succeed. Take the make-allowance, for example. It hasn’t had a meaningful update in 15 years. It’s a key priority of our hearing request, and it’s of intense interest to some. But it still needs to be addressed in a way that benefits all. Handling that issue in isolation would have the effect of reducing milk prices to farmers, a non-starter in a program that’s ultimately supported by a vote from producers.

That’s why we have the make allowance issue in our proposal, but one that’s included along with other necessary updates to milk pricing help economically offset our proposed make allowance adjustment, by bringing pricing formulas up-to-date and minimizing disruption to markets.

Modernizing the Federal Milk Marketing Order system has been due for some time; the pandemic experience, which exposed fault lines in the system, underscored just how necessary this effort has been and created the impetus for change. We’ve been deliberate in our approach because we wanted to make sure that we addressed the concern that Agriculture Secretary Vilsack stated well over a year ago when he said it was important to have consensus within the producer community.

We have achieved that consensus, and we believe we have sent USDA a strong signal — both in the thoroughness of our proposal and our depth of support among producers — that our comprehensive proposal is the proper basis for FMMO hearings and a path toward modernization.

And we’ll need to maintain that consensus throughout the process. As we move forward toward a hearing, we’ll continue listening to any concerns and providing any information that’s helpful for progress. Please don’t hesitate to write to the special address we’re using so that staff can respond to your questions. Thank you for your help and support.

This column originally appeared in Hoard’s Dairyman Intel on May 11, 2023.

New FMMO Will Work Better for Farmers, Mulhern Says


NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern says the industry need a modernized Federal Milk Marketing Order that works better for dairy farmers, in an interview with the National Association of Farm Broadcasters. “We’re really excited that is a plan that will point a way toward a much brighter future for us dairy industry,” Mulhern said.

NMPF’s Mulhern Explains FMMO Modernization

NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern explains the importance of modernization to the Federal Milk Marketing Order system and the benefits it hold from farmers to consumers in an interview with AgriTalk, a daily national conversation about the latest issues impacting agriculture and rural America. NMPF’s proposal to update the system, which governs milk pricing, is currently before USDA.


NMPF’s Bjerga On Equity in Federal Nutrition Programs


NMPF Senior Vice President for Communications Alan Bjerga discusses dairy’s need to promote its nutritional value for all consumers as concern for equity among all populations, including those that are lactose-intolerant, becomes a focus of federal nutrition policy. Bjerga also reveals his pick for the Super Bowl in an interview with WEKZ radio, Janesville, WI.

NMPF’s Galen on DMC Signup


NMPF Senior Vice President Chris Galen reminds farmers of the upcoming Dec. 9 deadline to enroll in the Dairy Margin Coverage Program in an interview with the National Association of Farm Broadcasters. This year’s payments under the program — the result of high input costs eating into record prices — show the wisdom of DMC’s design, Galen said.  “As we head into 2023, we know that milk prices aren’t going to be as strong,” Galen said. “We know that input costs are still going to be significant.”

NMPF’s Bjerga on the Dairy Economy, FMMO Modernization and Fake Milk


NMPF Senior Vice President for Communications, Alan Bjerga, discusses dairy issues ranging from pricing to fake milk with KASM radio of Albany, MN, at the National Association of Farm Broadcasters Issues Forum in Washington, DC. Record milk prices are coming with higher costs as well; meanwhile, NMPF is positioned to lead on Federal Milk Marketing Order modernization, a farmer-led process.

NMPF’s Bjerga on DMC

NMPF Senior Vice President of Communications Alan Bjerga discusses this year’s enhanced benefits under the Dairy Margin Coverage Program on RFD-TV. A better feed-cost calculation and a production update for some smaller producers- are 2022 highlights for DMC, which along with risk-management initiatives such as Dairy-RP and LGM-Dairy from USDA, offer a wide range of tools for producers, all made more workable and useful via NMPF advocacy.