There could be a major hearing on the Federal Milk Marketing Order this year

The American Farm Bureau Federation expects a major hearing on the Federal Milk Marketing Order this year. Delegates set policy during this week’s annual convention in San Juan, Puerto Rico. For the conversation, they were armed with the outcome of last year’s AFBF Federal Milk Marketing Order Forum.

AFBF economists say USDA wanted the industry to reach a consensus on what happens with the Federal Milk Marketing Order.

“Secretary Vilsack challenged the dairy industry and he said, ‘I’m not going to do anything with the USDA hearing on Federal Milk Marketing Orders until you get everybody in the industry in one room and you hash out these issues.’ In order for a hearing process to take place, people need to submit items to the record. He wanted a precursor meeting for everybody to get involved and talk about dairy issues. So, our dairy working group said, ‘Hey, we want to do this,’” said AFBF Economist Daniel Munch.

The delegate voting session finalized AFBF’s position Tuesday. AFBF Chief Economist Dr. Roger Cryan explains what will happen next.

“We expect to submit a petition. I think, ideally, it’s on the same day that the National Milk Producers Federation submits. If the International Dairy Foods Association submits it the same day, that’s even better. That means everyone is demonstrating to the Secretary that there’s a consensus that we need to do something, and to the extent that there is overlap among those three proposals, that’s fantastic. That will make most of those things kind of a no-brainer. There will be differences, and we’ll have to make the case for the details and the policy on how they work, how they are different, why it is important to do things one way or another way,” said Roger Cryan.

Cryan says there seems to be a consensus to move forward regarding the class price formulas and the class one differentials in order to find some balance in the value that is affected by the different formulas. He says when it comes to reform, the first step usually begins with petitions.

“The Department then will announce a timeline of the number of events. Usually, they first ask for additional proposals, then a hearing is scheduled, and it’s actually done in person. After the hearing, there’s an opportunity for post-hearing briefs, and then the Department will typically issue a recommended decision, which is essentially their draft proposed rule for the changes,” said Cryan.

After the hearing, there is an opportunity for post-hearing briefs. From there, a draft proposal will be presented for rule changes.