The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced last week that it will hold a hearing in Cincinnati on August 19 to consider a proposal from several cooperative groups seeking temporary adjustments to certain Class I differentials in the Mideast milk marketing order. At the hearing, USDA will receive evidence regarding the economic and marketing consequences of the proposal, as well as whether emergency conditions currently exist.
According to the proposal, changes to the Class I differentials for plant locations in the Mideast marketing order would range from an increase of 15 cents per hundredweight to an increase of 40 cents per hundredweight. The proposal was submitted by Dairy Farmers of America, Inc.; Dairylea Cooperative Inc.; Foremost Farms USA Cooperative, Inc.; Land O' Lakes, Inc.; Michigan Milk Producers Association, Inc.; and National Farmers Organization Inc.
The areas covered by this proposal are Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia.
Proponents of the proposal claim that the adjustments are needed to counter the market changes brought about by USDA's tentative decision earlier this year that adjusted milk pricing in three Southeastern federal marketing areas. In testimony delivered last year, IDFA opposed the Southeastern adjustments, noting that raising differentials in these markets would create problems in surrounding market areas, such as the Mideast. To read the previous News Update story, "IDFA Staff, Members Testify at USDA Hearing on Proposed Class I Changes," from May 2007, click here.
"This is just another example of why the entire Federal Milk Marketing Order system needs to be reformed," said Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO. "We can't keep addressing issues on a piecemeal basis, because each regional change will have a domino effect on the rest of the market areas.
"With the way the system is set up now, we spend far too much of our time and too many of our resources on government rule-making processes that yield too little, too late — and keep everyone guessing about the future. It’s time for the dairy industry to support real reform, so we all can concentrate on finding new market opportunities that will grow the industry," Tipton said.
IDFA encourages members in the affected states to attend the hearing and to testify or submit written testimony. Members with questions may contact Bob Yonkers, IDFA Vice President and Chief Economist, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 220-3511.