Dairy leader says Congress can help the industry with “a few sentences” in the farm bill
Some dairy industry stakeholders are calling for hearings on the Federal Milk Marketing Order, but an economist says current limits present challenges.
University of Minnesota’s Marin Bozic, a policy consultant for Edge Dairy Farmers Cooperative, says a hearing wouldn’t necessarily help farmers without a small change in current law. “Unfortunately, enabling legislation doesn’t even allow us to discuss some things in a hearing today, so what Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative is saying in the next farm bill, in the 2023 farm bill, we need to add a few sentences in legislation so we can have a richer discussion in a hearing.”
Bozic says although many producers appreciate the regional marketing orders, updates are needed. He says the sector is calling for flexibility in Class I revenue distribution, and milk pool eligibility to prevent Federal Order 30 in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and northern Illinois from disappearing. “If the Federal Order #30 goes away, with that goes the verification of component tests. With that goes the stipulation that processors have to pay in a timely way, and many other things that we take for granted today.”
Bozic says the 2023 Farm Bill and the Packers and Stockyards Act present opportunities for the industry. “What we would like to see in the farm bill is language that allows a hearing on a new way of federal order, and also maybe in the Packers and Stockyards Act, ten new principles on what constitutes fairness in contracting between milk buyers and dairy farmers.”
Bozic was a presenter during the recent American Farm Bureau Federation’s Federal Milk Marketing Order Forum in Kansas City. Many attendees said the industry should resolve the issues, but Bozic says Congress will have to authorize hearing flexibility for that to happen.