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USDA Amends Federal Milk Orders

22 October 2009

US - The US Department of Agriculture has issued a recommended decision to adopt amendments to the producer-handler definition in all Federal milk marketing orders.

USDA based its decision on testimony and evidence given at a public hearing held back in May, which included proposals from International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation, gathered last May at a hearing to consider changes to the producer-handler and exempt-plant provisions in all federal milk marketing order areas.

The recommended decision would make producer-handlers with more than three million pounds of Class I sales per month in federal milk marketing areas fully regulated and subject to all pricing and pooling provisions. Currently, only producer-handlers in two federal orders, the Pacific-Northwest and Arizona marketing areas, are limited in the volume of Class I sales they may have without being subject to these provisions.

Unlike other farmers and processors within a federal order area, dairy farmers who process milk from their own farms and market the products themselves have been largely exempt from pricing and pooling requirements. Some of these producer-handler operations have grown quite large in recent years, resulting in millions of pounds of unregulated milk and an artificial cost advantage.

IDFA President and CEO, Connie Tipton said: "As long as USDA regulates milk prices, we believe the rules should apply consistently to everyone. Ultimately, we want the rules to be simplified. USDA is currently formulating a dairy advisory group, which we hope will recommend significant reform and simplification of the federal milk marketing orders for everyone."

Interested persons have 60 days to file comments in response to the recommended decision. You may send your comments by using the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov.

The recommended decision was published in the Federal Register yesterday (21 October).

TheCattleSite News Desk



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