What are the steps required to adjust the Federal Milk Marketing Orders?

Several dairy groups have submitted proposals formally calling for changes to make allowances within the Federal Milk Marketing Orders. The Ag Marketing Service explains where the process goes from here.

“As a next step, once a formal proposal is received, the Secretary of Agriculture has 30 days, which is in this case, April 29th to do one of three things. He or she can accept the proposal as presented and then begin the rule-making process by issuing what we call an action plan or requesting additional information to consider whether to initiate rule-making or deny the request. If it’s denied, the Secretary may delay consideration of any proposal containing a change to make allowances for up to 90 days,” said Melissa Bailey.

If the process moves forward, there could be calls for additional proposals as well as mandatory hearings before the order can be changed. From there, the Department would solicit public feedback.

“The final stages of rule-making include USDA issuing a decision based on the record, and parties and members of the public can then comment on the recommended decision. USDA will then consider the comments and publishes a final decision in the Federal Register. At this time, affected producers would vote as to whether they accept the entire Federal Milk Marketing Order with the proposed changes. It’s important to note that it is an all-or-nothing vote. A producer voting either supports the Federal Milk Marketing Order with all of the changes or does not support the Federal Milk Marketing Order with all the changes. Each producer does get a single vote in this process. A USDA Federal Milk Marketing Order Cooperative does have the opportunity to do a bloc vote for their members, and non-cooperative members do receive a ballot from USDA to participate in the voting process.”

Earlier this week, the National Milk Producers Federation announced plans to submit a proposal, which could be the first significant update on the system in more than 20 years.

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