Farmers Union says upcoming milk price hearing misses biggest issue

National Farmers Union President Rob Larew tells Brownfield the upcoming USDA hearing on potential changes to the Federal Milk Marketing Order system is not addressing the real problem. “Quite honestly, I’m not real thrilled about the hearing. We don’t think it’s the right issue and the right thing to be addressed right now, and so we’ve actually taken a stance in opposition to calling for the hearing.”

The USDA set the scope of next month’s hearing, and it will get into make allowances, the Class I differential formula, advanced pricing, and other issues, but Larew tells Brownfield there are far deeper substantial problems in the dairy industry right now that need action. “In the context of a farm bill, to actually see legislation that actually tries to get a handle on the supply. We still have more milk being produced, driving down price, and anytime we have that scenario and we don’t have a way to get a handle on that, farmers are the ones who are going to end up suffering.”

Larew says the biggest fundamental problem impacting family dairy farms is price stability. National Farmers Union did pass a special order of business to outline their priorities if a hearing takes place, and implementing growth management to control the milk supply remains their top priority.

Larew says the fundamental issue that dairy farmers face is far more profound than what is in the scope of the USDA hearing, and he says unfortunately, that’s not the conversation that’s not being had right now.

Wisconsin Farmers Union President Darin Von Ruden agrees, saying “The Federal Milk Market Order hearings are one important piece of the puzzle” and, “We need to be cautious to not be lulled into contentment with small wins that won’t ultimately lead to effective change. The underlying issue impacting dairy farmers’ livelihood is unchecked overproduction. That’s why Farmers Union and our Dairy Together coalition will continue to organize for fairer prices and growth management.”

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