At their annual meeting earlier this month, members of the Idaho Dairymen’s Association (IDA) flip-flopped on Federal Orders, now voting in support of federally regulated prices.
“We have turned somewhat from the pure ‘free market’ philosophy, in part because the majority of milk in the United States has price control—mechanisms in place that help enhance their pricing and put them in a stronger competitive position,” says Bob Naerebout, IDA’s executive director.
Since the elimination of Federal Order #135 on April 1, 2004, of which Idaho was a part, milk prices have eroded to the Class III price—or below. “The Boise market is $1.65/cwt below what it was under Federal Order #135,” says Naerebout.
While IDA itself cannot pursue re-establishment of the Federal Order, it can encourage those that sell into the fluid market to do so. Though Idaho's Class I utilization is small, it still carries added value.
One bit of good news that will only get better: Chobani’s new Greek yogurt plant in Twin Falls, Ida., began accepting its first loads of milk this week. While these loads will be used to test out the plant’s equipment, it is the first step to full scale production next year. The new plant—with more than 21 acres under roof—is welcome news for the state’s dairy producers since it is the first large scale dairy plant built this decade.
More on Idaho’s competitive position in the dairy industry can be read here.