USDA, dairy groups prepare for possible milk price hearing

Representatives from several dairy organizations reviewed their proposed changes to the Federal Milk Marketing Order system with USDA officials Friday.

Erin Taylor is a director with the Agricultural Marketing Service. She says Friday’s meeting was to discuss and better understand the various pricing proposals but not the merits of each proposal.

Requests for a hearing on the federal orders initially came from the National Milk Producers Federation, the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, and the International Dairy Foods Association, but Taylor says others have been filed since. “On June 1st, we issued an action plan and a request for additional proposals to consider. In response to that, we have twelve organizations who submitted 38 proposals.”

Taylor says  USDA will accept revisions and modifications to the proposals until Tuesday, June 20th.  After that, Secretary Tom Vilsack will determine if USDA proceeds to a hearing and what the scope of the hearing would be.

Taylor says if a hearing is held, notice will be issued in mid to late July. “If a hearing is held, it will begin on August 23rd, and if it is held, it will be in Carmel, Indiana.”

Twelve dairy stakeholders participated in the meeting to clarify their proposals and answer questions.  The stakeholders do not share positions on issues like processor make allowances or going back to the “higher of” Class III and IV in the Class I formula.

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