AFBF recommends milk pricing reform and modifying the FMMO

An extensive review by the American Farm Bureau Federation recommends changes to the Federal Milk Marketing Order.

AFBF released its final report on priorities for milk pricing reform, calling for more democracy and a more equitable program for dairy farmers. AFBF chief economist, John Newton says that the policy recommendations follow a year-long review by a Farm Bureau working group.

“Our voting delegates this past January adopted many of those policies including giving farmers an opportunity to cast an individual and confidential ballot, improving the price discovery and milk pricing formulas, improved risk sharing between processors and dairy farmers, and then more uniformity in how milk pricing and pooling provisions around the ten Federal Milk Marketing Orders.”

Newton says that a number of challenges, including those related to COVID-19, highlight the need for reforms. “We’ve got cheese prices that have more than doubled in the past month and a half where fluid milk prices remain depressed. We’ve got mass de-pooling of milk across the country and record large deductions from farmers’ milk checks, and that all points to the need to thoroughly review milk pricing rules and think about how we can modernize Federal Milk Marketing Orders to today’s dairy economy.”

Outside of the 2018 Farm Bill, the program has not undergone substantial change in almost two decades. Newton says that dairy farmers should be allowed to directly vote on FMMO reform. “It’s just getting dairy farmers a seat at the table... These federal orders impact dairy farmers’ profitability and dairy farmers deserve a seat at the table, they deserve transparency.”