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IDFA Presents Two Proposals at USDA Pilot Pre-Hearing Session

Dec 11, 2006

IDFA Presents Two Proposals at USDA Pilot Pre-Hearing Session

Representatives from IDFA and 15 member companies were among the 70 participants who attended a pre-hearing session on Class III and Class IV price formulas in Washington, D.C., last week. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) held a pilot of the new "pre-hearing workshop," allowing participants to discuss proposals to amend additional aspects of the Class III and Class IV federal order price formulas in a less formal, off-the-record type of setting.

Although a hearing date on these Class III and IV proposals has not been set, IDFA expects it will not take place until February, at the earliest.

"We commend USDA for this addition to the hearing process," said John Rutherford, IDFA senior research analyst, who attended the workshop. "USDA will better understand the proposal priorities for a hearing notice. Also, the process can move more quickly because we will be speaking from a common perspective."

Producers, processors and other industry representatives presented a total of 22 proposals during the one-day session. IDFA presented two proposals calling for adjustments to the protein price formula used to establish Class III milk prices and the elimination of the three-cent per pound adjustment on the average price for cheddar cheese in 500-pound barrels. To read IDFA's proposals, click here.

USDA established this pilot as part of an effort to streamline its information-gathering and decision-making process, and to become more responsive to market conditions. The program also allows department officials to become better informed on which proposals should be included in future hearings and to help presenters prepare testimony and evidence to support or oppose proposals that may be included in a future Class III and IV hearing. The pre-hearing presentations and discussions will not become part of an official hearing record.

"We feel this is a good first step, but more is needed," added Chip Kunde, IDFA senior vice president. "California Department of Food and Agriculture already holds workshops much like these, but they also have firm deadlines for actions; USDA should be held to similar timelines to ensure a more responsive process."

USDA has announced plans to post an audiotape of last week's session at its website in the near future. To read all the proposals that were submitted to USDA about the Class III and IV price formulas, click here.

Amendments to the proposals discussed at the session must be submitted to USDA by December 20.

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Posted December 11, 2006

Dairy Delivers