Bipartisan House Bill Would Require USDA To Call Federal Order Hearing

US Reps. Nick Langworthy (R-NY) and Joe Morelle (D-NY) on Thursday introduced the Dairy Pricing Opportunity Act.

Under the legislation, not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of the bill, the US secretary of agriculture would provide notice of, and initiate, national hearings to review federal milk marketing orders.

Such a review would have to include review and consideration of views and proposals of dairy producers and the dairy industry on the Class I skim milk price, including the “higher of” Class I skim milk formula, and any other proposals on the Class I skim milk price., and such other matters as the secretary of agriculture considers appropriate.

The legislation would also require mandatory reporting of dairy product processing costs, and would require the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to publish a report every two years containing these dairy product processing costs.

Similar legislation was introduced in the US Senate earlier this year.

“This critical bill will provide much-needed stability and certainty to ensure that our farmers can do what they do best: produce food for Americans,” Landworthy said.

“Volatility in the dairy market means uncertainty for farmers and consumers alike, and it’s critical we take action to ensure everyone receives the fairest price possible,” Morelle commented. “By providing farmers with additional confidence in the dairy pricing system, the Dairy Pricing Opportunity Act will help create more stability in the dairy market and support New York state’s proud history of dairy production.

“Federal milk marketing reform is a key priority for AFBF, and we are pleased to see Rep. Langworthy incorporate several of our requested changes into the Dairy Pricing Opportunity Act,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).

“Dairy farmers deserve clarity and confidence in how they are paid, and all-inclusive cost and yield surveying of processors is a good first step to ensure make allowances are being calculated fairly and accurately,” Duvall said. “Switching back to the ‘higher-of’ Class I formula as quickly as possible is a priority of our dairy farmers.

“We commend Rep. Langworthy for including a provision that would require USDA to initiate a national federal order hearing process that will allow us to pursue this change administratively while we also pursue the change legislatively,” Duvall continued

“Meaningful federal milk market order reform is essential for New York’s dairy farms to help ensure they receive a fair price for their milk,” said David Fisher, president of New York Farm Bureau and a dairy farmer.

“Farm Bureau has long been advocating for federal order changes and created a special working group made up of farmers and industry leaders to help identify areas for key change,” Fisher continued.

Mandatory updates of federal order make allowances has drawn support from several dairy industry organizations. The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), for example, wants a process developed to ensure make allowances are reviewed more frequently.

This includes enacting legisltion to require USDA to conduct regular, mandatory and auditable processing plant cost studies every two years and to..

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