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Court Rejects Challenge to Milk Regulatory Equity Act

Apr 18, 2012

Six years ago this month, President George Bush signed into law the Milk Regulatory Equity Act, effectively closing a loophole that had allowed regulatory inequities between federal and state milk marketing orders in Arizona, California and Nevada. This bill marked a major victory for IDFA and the U.S. dairy industry.

Six months later, Hein Hettinga, a producer in Arizona, filed a lawsuit claiming the bill was unconstitutional because it targeted a single individual. (The Constitution doesn't allow individuals to be singled out for legislative punishment without a trial.) The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals this week upheld the 2006 law, saying it "would apply to any producer-handler that meets its statutory requirements, not only the Hettingas."

"We're pleased with the court's decision to uphold the law," said Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO. "Although the requirements of the Federal Milk Marketing Order system are burdensome and outdated, it's only fair that we all abide by the same rules."  

Nationwide Support Among Producers and Processors

The Milk Regulatory Equity Act closed regulatory loopholes that allowed unregulated milk to take markets away from dairy producers and processors in regulated areas. The legislation had the support of producers and processors nationwide.

IDFA was part of an unprecedented national coalition of producer and processor groups that supported act, including the National Milk Producers Federation, the Dairy Institute of California, Western United Dairymen and the Dairy Farmers of America. Many IDFA member companies and their employees also logged hundreds of calls and letters to voice support for the bill.

The law made it illegal for plants in southwestern states to sell milk into a state milk marketing area from a federally regulated milk marketing area without complying with either state or federal pricing regulations. Specifically, it ensured that milk processors in Arizona, including producer-handlers that sell more than three million pounds of fluid milk per month, are required to comply with federal regulations.

The legislation also clarified that plants in Nevada selling into a federal milk marketing order had to abide by federal pricing regulations.

For more information, contact Bob Yonkers, IDFA vice president and chief economist, at

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