Here is a quick look at dairy-related news from last week.

Lee karen
Managing Editor / Progressive Dairy

Judge denies dismissal of dairy class action lawsuit in New Mexico

Last Monday, U.S. District Judge Margaret Strickland ruled dairy farmers in New Mexico, most of Texas and parts of Arizona, Oklahoma and Kansas can move ahead with their antitrust claims against Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) and Select Milk.

Strickland denied DFA’s motion to dismiss the case that accuses them of violating U.S. antitrust laws, and said the plaintiffs plausibly alleged that DFA and Select Milk unlawfully coordinated price decisions that resulted in depressed payments to members since 2015.

This action pertains to a class action complaint filed in 2022. Read: Dairy producers file class action complaint in Southwest

In a statement, DFA Chief Communications Officer Kristen Coady said “We are disappointed in the court’s decision and maintain that the baseless, irresponsible and meritless claims in this case warrant dismissal, despite the court’s hesitancy to do so at this time.”


She added, “It is disheartening that the plaintiff farmers in this suit would seek to impose senseless harm and cost on their fellow dairy farmers.”

DFA said it would “vigorously defend against the claims made in this suit.”

Nominees sought for the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is seeking nominees for the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board. The deadline for nominations is April 22.

From the nominees, the secretary of agriculture will appoint 12 individuals to succeed members whose terms expire Oct. 31, 2024. Newly appointed members will serve three-year terms from Nov. 1, 2024, through Oct. 31, 2027.

The USDA is seeking nominees for:

  • One seat for Region 1 (Alaska, Oregon and Washington)
  • Two seats for Region 2 (California and Hawaii)
  • One seat for Region 4 (Arkansas, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas)
  • One seat for Region 5 (Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota)
  • Two seats for Region 6 (Wisconsin)
  • One seat for Region 7 (Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska)
  • One seat for Region 8 (Idaho)
  • One seat for Region 9 (Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia)
  • One seat for Region 11 (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania)
  • One seat for Region 12 (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont)

Nominees must be dairy producers who produce milk in the region for which they are nominated.

Nomination forms are available on the AMS National Dairy Promotion and Research Board webpage. For more information, contact Jill Hoover at (202) 720-1069.

USDA finalizes voluntary Product of USA label claim

USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the finalization of a rule to align the voluntary “Product of USA” label claim with consumer understanding of what the claim means.

The USDA’s final Product of USA rule allows the voluntary Product of USA or “Made in the USA” label claim to be used on meat, poultry and egg products only when they are derived from animals born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the U.S. The rule will prohibit misleading U.S. origin labeling in the market and help ensure that the information that consumers receive about where their food comes from is truthful.

“This final rule will ensure that when consumers see Product of USA they can trust the authenticity of that label and know that every step involved, from birth to processing, was done here in America,” Vilsack said.

The USDA’s final Product of USA rule is supported by petitions, thousands of comments from stakeholders and data from a nationwide consumer survey.

This rule addresses a loophole created by the repeal of mandatory country of origin labeling in 2015, which then opened the door for multinational meat-packing corporations to place a Product of USA label on imported meat repackaged in the U.S.

National Cattleman’s Beef Association (NCBA) Executive Director of Government Affairs Kent Bacus said in a statement: “NCBA has been committed to finding solutions to this problem ever since a producer-led NCBA working group raised the alarm, years ago, that imported beef could be mislabeled as a Product of the USA incorrectly at the end of the supply chain. We appreciate USDA’s effort to address this loophole.”

The Product of USA or Made in the USA label claim will continue to be voluntary. It will also remain eligible for generic label approval, meaning it would not need to be pre-approved by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) before it can be used on regulated product, but would require the establishment to maintain documentation on file to support the claim.

The USDA has also published an updated labeling guidance on the use of voluntary U.S.-origin label claims to provide examples of claims and the types of documentation that establishments may maintain to support use of the claims. The guidance will be open for public comment for 60 days after publishing in the Federal Register.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack comments on the president’s fiscal year 2025 budget

The Biden administration released the president’s budget for fiscal year 2025.

“Looking ahead to 2025, it is critically important that USDA’s programs, staff and facilities are funded adequately to live up to its moniker the People’s Department.’ The president’s budget proposal honors this commitment and enhances the opportunities available for millions of Americans, including in rural communities,” Vilsack said.

At the USDA, the budget:

  • Requests $7.7 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to ensure that the program can serve all eligible pregnant women, mothers, infants and children who apply
  • Proposes a $3.8 billion investment in our agricultural research, education and economics programs
  • Supports $2.3 billion in B&I loan guarantees, which bolsters the availability of private credit by guaranteeing loans made by lenders to rural businesses
  • Invests in programs that reduce energy costs for rural communities, including $1 billion for renewable energy loan guarantees for farmers and rural small businesses and $53 million in zero-interest loans for the Rural Energy Savings Program
  • Fully funds the federal crop insurance program in recognition of the indispensable role that crop insurance plays in the farm safety net

For more information, visit the president’s fiscal year 2025 budget webpage.