Here’s an update on news impacting your dairy during the first full week of December 2023.
- National FMMO hearing resumes
- USDA publishes ‘final decision’ regarding regional FMMO amendments in southeast U.S.
- Dairy Forward Pricing Program extension details announced
The national hearing on Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) pricing formulas continues this week at a new location. Hearing sessions are scheduled for Dec. 4-8, at the Palomino Ballroom, 481 S. 1200 E., Zionsville, Indiana.
All testimony presented at the hearing must be in-person; there are no virtual testimony opportunities for dairy producers.
According to Jim Mulhern, National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) president and CEO, there are no locations or hearing dates scheduled after this week – and little prospect the hearing will conclude. It’s likely the process will again be put on hold until at least mid-January. This in turn will delay USDA’s post-hearing timetable for crafting proposed changes to the FMMO system and holding a producer referendum.
While the national FMMO pricing formula hearing stretches on, the USDA has published a final decision on amendments to Appalachian, Florida and Southeast FMMOs.
The amendments adjust the intermarket transportation credits in the Appalachian and Southeast FMMOs and recommends the establishment of distributing plant delivery credits in the Appalachian, Southeast and Florida FMMOs.
The final decision is a result of a hearing, held Feb. 28-March 2, 2023, to address a long-standing milk deficit problem in the three Southeastern orders and its impact on producers, cooperatives and handlers serving the markets.
The final decision was published in the Federal Register on Dec. 1, 2023. Copies of the hearing notice may be obtained from USDA/AMS/Dairy Program, STOP 0225 – Rm. 2530, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250-0225. The hearing record is also available on the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) website.
The final decision must now be approved by producers. If at least two-thirds of the producers or two-thirds of the milk represented in the vote approve of the amended orders, the AMS will issue a final rule implementing the changes.
Last fall’s uncertainty regarding fiscal year 2024 USDA funding threatened several programs. One program facing expiration was the Dairy Forward Pricing Program. On Dec. 1, the USDA’s AMS announced immediate extension of the program.
The Further Continuing Appropriations and Other Extensions Act of 2024 extends the Dairy Forward Pricing Program to allow new contracts to be entered into until Sept. 30, 2024. Milk marketing contracts may extend through the expiration date of Sept. 30, 2027. The USDA will publish an update to the deadline dates in the Federal Register.
Under the Dairy Forward Pricing Program, any eligible milk handler may enter into forward contracts with producers or cooperatives for the handler's eligible Class II, III and IV volume of milk. That milk under forward contract is exempt from FMMO minimum milk pricing requirements for the time period covered by the contract.