On Dec. 4, Progressive Dairy reported that the USDA had published a “final decision” regarding regional amendments to Appalachian, Florida and Southeast Federal Milk Marketing Orders (FMMOs). Read: Weekly Digest: Final decision issued for southeast FMMOs
The final decision must now be approved in a producer referendum. Producers whose milk was pooled on the three southeastern U.S. FMMOs in March 2023 must have ballots postmarked by Dec. 22 to be included in determining approval of the orders as amended. Members of a cooperative may not receive a ballot if their cooperative tells the USDA that they plan to bloc vote on behalf of their members.
If at least two-thirds of the producers or two-thirds of the milk represented in the vote approve of the amended orders, the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will issue a final rule implementing the changes.
Once ballots have been received and tallied, the USDA will either issue a final rule implementing the orders as amended or, if producers do not approve the amended orders, terminate the orders. An announcement is expected sometime in the first quarter of 2024.
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 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 AMS website.