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Farm Bureau Report: Dairy Farmers need a Voice in Milk Pricing

Washington—While milk prices continue to improve in Idaho and across the nation, there’s still work to be done to maintain milk profits.

In Washington The American Farm Bureau Federation released a report on milk pricing reform, calling for more democracy and an equal program for dairy farmers. The AFBF’s John Newton says the policy came from a Farm Bureau working group.

“Our voting delegates this past January adopted many of those policies including giving farmers an opportunity to cast an individual and confidential ballot, improving the price discovery and milk pricing formulas, improved risk-sharing between processors and dairy farmers, and then more uniformity in how milk pricing and pooling provisions operate around the ten Federal Milk Marketing Orders,” said Newton.

Newton says a number of challenges, including those related to COVID-19, highlight the need for reforms.

“We’ve got cheese prices that have more than doubled in the past month and a half where fluid milk prices remain depressed. We’ve got mass de-pooling of milk across the country and record-large deductions from farmers' milk checks. And that all points to the need to thoroughly review milk pricing rules and think about how we can modernize Federal Milk Marketing Orders to today’s dairy economy,” said Newton.

Outside of the 2018 farm bill, the program has not undergone substantial change in almost two decades. Newton says dairy farmers should be allowed to directly vote on FMMO reforms.

“It’s just getting dairy farmers a seat at the table, making sure that they have an opportunity to cast an individual ballot during a Federal Milk Marketing Order referendum. These federal orders impact dairy farmers’ profitability and dairy farmers deserve a seat at the table, they deserve that transparency. And I think together, farmers and the industry can work to improve how milk pricing works in the United States,” said Newton.