SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Farmer delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 104th Convention approved proposed dairy policy generated through a national Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) Forum last October.
According to Michigan Farm Bureau board member Stephanie Schafer, a Clinton County dairy farmer near Westphalia, the newly approved AFBF policy calls for major reforms of the 20-year-old FMMO, while also improving dairy pricing transparency.
The AFBF dairy policy, said Schafer, was the culmination of a two-year effort that originated from MFB member voting delegates calling for the first-of-its-kind, industry-wide FMMO Forum, leading up to policy calling for the FMMO overhaul.
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“That language came right straight from Michigan to have processors and producers come together and speak about federal milk marketing orders in the dairy industry,” Schafer said.
“The AFBF dairy policy also included numerous policy recommendations from our Michigan delegates this past year, so it was a great opportunity and example of our grassroots policy process because it came right straight from Michigan,” Schafer continued. “We got all our language in and it should hopefully help in the next farm bill.”
High on the priority list of dairy-related policy is returning to the "higher of" the Class III or Class IV, according to Schafer.
“We want that to go in front of a public hearing so that maybe we can get that sooner rather than later,” she added.
Specific AFBF FMMO reform policy calls for:
- An FMMO voting procedure that mandates cooperatives more clearly communicate with their members regarding proposed FMMO changes and their intent.
- USDA developing an improved method to determine the Class I milk mover base price that is not reliant solely on manufacturing dairy products, better reflects local market conditions, provides more appropriate economic incentives to fluid milk producers and processors, recognizes the costs in servicing a fluid milk market, and continues to ensure fluid milk consumers have a quality and adequate supply of fresh fluid milk. Until an improved method is developed, AFBF supports going back to the "higher of" the class III or class IV.
- Develop a process to ensure make-allowances are reviewed more frequently through legislation directing USDA to conduct mandatory and audited plant-cost of studies every two years.
- Make processing cost surveys of plants mandatory and audited by USDA to ensure the accurate data.
- Updates to dairy product manufacturing allowances contained in the USDA milk price formulas.
- The consideration of an additional or different make allowance that compensate for the costs incurred by co-ops and manufacturers for balancing the market.
- 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.
- Review and update the data and products used in USDA’s pricing survey so that they are more reflective of products being produced and current utilization within each class on a regular basis.
- The discontinuation of barrel cheese in the protein component price formula and including only blocks.