The U.S. Department of Agriculture is holding a Federal Milk Marketing Order hearing beginning Aug. 23 in Carmel, Indiana. Dairy farmers can provide testimonies in-person or virtually; all they have to do is find a USDA official or register online.
Throughout the hearing, the USDA will consider 21 proposals, including a primary proposal from the National Milk Producers Federation’s original proposal on May 1.
FMMOs influence how dairy farmers are paid every month and have historically been based on dairy farmer input.
“Dairy farmers deserve transparency, fairness, and trust in the milk marketing system, and we’re pleased with the decision to allow farmers to testify both virtually and in person,” says AFBF President Zippy Duval. “We look forward to the hearing process and stand ready to explain and advocate for the changes we’ve proposed, which are a result of the comprehensive FMMO Forum AFBF organized in Kansas City last year.”
The hearing is expected to last a few weeks, with a recommended decision offered up by the USDA next year in February or March. The recommended decision will allow for comments before the final decision is issued in June or July and made fully effective in the fall of 2024.
“We are trying to make sure that things stay in line with how the industry operates today,” says National Milk Producers Federation Director of Economic Research and Analysis, Stephen Cain. “We are making sure that all of the things that we’re doing here are to benefit the U.S. dairy farmer. We are wanting to make sure they’re being adequately compensated; we want to make sure they’re being treated fairly.”
For in-person testimonies, farmers can show up at any time. All they have to do is find a USDA official, and they’ll have up to 60 minutes to provide context and testimony on any of the issues.
If farmers are interested in testifying virtually, they have to pre-register on the Monday of the week they hope to testify on, and then they will be able to testify on that Friday.
Virtual registration will be available on the USDA’s website.