Here is a brief look at the news affecting dairy producers during the second full week of September 2023:

Natzke dave
Editor / Progressive Dairy

Digest highlights

USDA announces Milk Loss Program assistance for losses due to disaster events in 2020-22

The USDA is making Milk Loss Program (MLP) financial assistance to eligible dairy operations for milk that was dumped or removed, without compensation, from the commercial milk market during calendar years 2020, 2021 and 2022. Administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA), sign-up for the MLP began Sept. 11 and runs through Oct. 16, 2023.

The program covers milk income losses due to qualifying weather events and the related consequences that inhibited milk delivery or storage (e.g., power outages, impassable roads, infrastructure losses, etc.). Qualifying disaster events include droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, floods, derechos, excessive heat, winter storms and smoke exposure that occurred in the 2020, 2021 and 2022 calendar years. Tornadoes are considered a qualifying disaster event for calendar year 2022 only. 

The milk loss claim period is each calendar month that milk was dumped or removed from the commercial market. Milk loss that occurred in more than one calendar month due to the same weather event requires a separate application for each month. The duration of yearly claims is limited to 30 days per year.


To apply for MLP, producers must submit Form FSA-376 and provide a milk marketing statement from the month prior to the month milk was removed or dumped and the affected month. In addition, producers must provide detailed written statements of milk removal circumstances. Producers who submitted FSA-376 during the sign-up period will have until Dec. 16, 2023, to provide payment eligibility and supporting documentation. 

A number of other worksheets are also necessary if not already on file with FSA. For eligibility and application information, as well as details about how payments will be calculated, read USDA’s MLP announcement and/or contact a local FSA county office. 

Although MLP support is targeted for individual producers, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) is urging cooperatives that spread losses across their membership to contact Steve Peterson at the FSA to inquire about eligibility for support to distribute to producers whose milk income was reduced due to milk dumping.

MLP payments are calculated on a per-hundredweight basis and factor base daily milk production per cow, the number of cows and the number of days milk was removed or dumped. Payments will cover 75% of losses for most producers and 90% for “underserved” producers, including socially disadvantaged, beginning, limited resource and military veterans.

13 groups suing EPA, seeking stronger CAFO regulations

More than a dozen organizations have filed a lawsuit against the EPA, charging the agency is failing to adequately regulate concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The lawsuit, filed Sept. 9 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th District, follows the EPA denial of a 2017 petition asking the EPA to expand and strengthen requirements for CAFO environmental permits.

Organizations filing the lawsuit are Food & Water Watch, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Dakota Rural Action, Dodge County Concerned Citizens, Environmental Integrity Project, Helping Others Maintain Environmental Standards, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Kewaunee CARES, Land Stewardship Project, Midwest Environmental Advocates and North Carolina Environmental Justice Network. They allege agriculture is the nation’s leading polluter of rivers and lakes.

Additional WOTUS webinars planned

The EPA has scheduled additional informational webinars to discuss the newly amended “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule. The amended rule, released Aug. 29, revises the January 2023 definition to determine when waters or wetlands are covered by the CWA, as well as the definition of “adjacent wetlands.” Read: EPA amends WOTUS rule

The agency is hosting three public webinars to provide updates (all Eastern time): Sept. 12 (3-4 p.m.), Sept. 13 (1-2 p.m.) and Sept. 20 (3-4 p.m.). Each webinar will present the same information and advance registration is required.

The Sept. 12 webinar had already reached registration capacity, and others were expected to fill quickly. The EPA also plans to host listening sessions this fall.

The rule will become effective upon publication in the Federal Register and will be available on in docket number EPA-HQOW-2023-0346. A pre-publication version and summary fact sheet are available.

For a summary of the amended rule, read the Texas Agriculture Law Blog article, EPA releases revised WOTUS definition.

Dairy researchers receive funding

A team of Purdue University researchers has received a $1 million grant from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to improve feed efficiency and consistency on dairy farms by using automated video analytics systems.

The research project will be led by Jacquelyn Boerman, associate professor of animal sciences at Purdue. Her team will focus on enhancing dairy cow efficiency by assessing feed composition for consistency, which improves their milk production. Amy Reibman, professor of electrical and computer engineering, will handle the video recording logistics and data analytics. The researchers will carry out the initial testing phase primarily at the Purdue Dairy Unit.

The grant is among $9.6 million in recent NIFA investments supporting 12 projects in animal innovation systems. Two other dairy-related research projects each also received $1 million grants:

  • Researchers at the University of Wisconsin – Madison will study the development and use of a computer vision system to monitor and control metabolic disorders.
  • Researchers at Colorado State University will work to provide a framework for the development of meaningful, multilayer interventions to improve end-of-life decisions for U.S. dairy cows and calves at all points along the supply chain.

Canada’s TRQs addressed in CPTPP dispute settlement

A Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) dispute settlement has New Zealand declaring victory, while the interpretation from Canada is mixed. The two countries now have about 45 days to iron out differences.

In May 2022, New Zealand challenged Canada’s administration of its dairy tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) under the CPTPP. The settlement final report was released Sept. 6.

New Zealand’s minister for trade and export growth, Damien O’Connor, welcomed the ruling, calling it a significant win for the country’s dairy exporters.

Officials with Global Affairs Canada said the settlement reaffirms Canada’s dairy supply management system. In a statement, they said the final report was a clear victory for Canada. However, David Wiens, president of Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC), expressed disappointment in the settlement and urged the Canadian government to investigate New Zealand’s dairy sector.

The CPTPP is a free trade agreement between Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam.

U.S. and Canadian governments held a hearing in late July over Canada’s TRQs and compliance with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Coming up

  • Administrators of the 11 Federal Milk Marketing Orders (FMMOs) will report August 2023 prices and pooling data, Sept. 11-14. Check Progressive Dairy’s news section of the website for a summary on Sept. 15.
  • The comment period on proposed amendments to the Appalachian, Southeast and Florida FMMOs is Sept. 18. The amendments make changes to the transportation credit balancing fund (TCBF) provisions in the Appalachian and Southeast FMMOs and established distributing plant delivery credit (DPDC) provisions in all three FMMOs. The proposed rule, hearing transcripts, post-hearing briefs and links to submit comments are available here.