IDFA is pleased to report that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue confirmed that USDA will not release the confidential business information collected through the Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) program “to any non-USDA entity, including GAO.” Read the Secretary’s letter. 

In late October, IDFA learned that the GAO had asked USDA to provide it with access to confidential business information collected under the FMMO program. This data would have reportedly include the names and addresses of dairy producers, as well as milk marketing information from cooperatives and proprietary firms, including monthly pounds of milk marketed, to whom the milk was sold, and prices for the associated monthly milk volumes. USDA has historically protected this FMMO data from public disclosure, and so we are very pleased to see USDA maintain this position. 

IDFA reached out to USDA and explained our position to Secretary Perdue: IDFA believes any disclosures of this proprietary information would harm individual farmers, we explained, as well as cooperatives and proprietary processors, and would significantly disrupt the U.S. dairy market. Moreover, it would have set a negative precedent for USDA’s handling of confidential information and would likely cause milk handlers to stop providing the Department with voluntary data submissions given that such information could be vulnerable to public disclosure.

IDFA is grateful to have collaborated with the National Milk Producers Federation to advocate directly with USDA and Secretary Perdue on behalf of our members on this issue.