On Aug. 23, 2023, Dana Coale, deputy administrator of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Dairy Program, and presiding Judge Channing D. Strother, USDA chief administrative law judge, welcomed industry representatives, USDA staff and other attendees to the first day of the National Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) Pricing Formula Hearing and provided an overview of the hearing process. Objections to USDA decisions to exclude specific proposals from the hearing were heard followed by witness testimony, which included the presentation of data and other exhibits.
“There are 20 proposals that are being considered, and these proposals impact various parts of the federal order pricing formulas and have an impact on both producers and processors,” Coale said. “Any decision that USDA makes has to be based on the evidence that has been submitted into the record, so it’s important for people to be aware and to participate.”
One of the ways for producers to be involved in this process is to testify.
“They can talk about any of the proposals, or they can present general information about their farm and what they believe would be helpful,” Coale said.
Dairy farmers can testify in person anytime during the hearing. Those unable to attend in person will have the opportunity to testify virtually on Fridays starting Sept. 1 and each Friday thereafter until the hearing concludes. To testify virtually, dairy farmers must pre-register on the hearing website. Registration for the 10 timeslots each Friday will be available starting on Monday of the same week.
“The USDA wants to hear from producers to make sure that what they come up with as a final decision at the end of this process reflects the sentiment that producers and the dairy community feel will advance orderly marketing of milk in this country,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO, National Milk Producers Federation. “If producers testify, it would be helpful to share information on the value they see in federal orders and how this program is important for both price transparency and orderly marketing – that’s the information that USDA needs to know from producers.”
The hearing will continue through Sept. 30 and will be held each weekday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the 502 East Event Centre, 502 East Carmel Drive, Carmel, Indiana, except for Labor Day (Sept. 4) and Sept. 20 and 21. To tune into the livestream, pre-register for virtual testimony and to view other information related to the hearing, visit the hearing website.