The American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union sent a letter today requesting that USDA bring stability to Class I milk prices. The letter, sent jointly by AFBF President Zippy Duvall and NFU President Rob Larew, asks Secretary Tom Vilsack to issue an interim final decision to return the Class I mover formula to the “higher of” the Class III or IV calculations, as it was before the 2018 farm bill.

The letter states, “Dairy farmers remain stuck with current pricing regulations until USDA publishes a final rule. Current market dynamics underscore the need for expedited return to the ‘higher-of’ Class I mover. The current Class I mover was a well-intentioned but misguided policy that has reduced dairy farmer income. Emergency implementation of the ‘higher-of’ Class I mover formula will staunch persistent losses associated with a policy that has left dairy farmers struggling to make ends meet.”

The 2018 farm bill included a provision that swapped the higher-of the advanced Class III or IV skim milk price formula for the simple average-of advanced Class III and IV skim milk formulas plus 74 cents. Farmers addressed the challenges of the formula in a Federal Milk Marketing Forum organized by AFBF in 2022, identified the issue in a special order of business at the 2023 NFU Convention, and testified in USDA hearings that began in 2023. “The current formula was based on a quick legislative decision and not based on a hearing record of demonstrated need,” the letter continues. “It has also not turned out to be revenue neutral for dairy farmers. A return to the ‘higher-of’ is supported by the record in the current hearing, as well as by the rulemaking at the time it was first established in 2000.”

Read the full letter here.

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