USDA is proposing that the producer/handler exemption in Federal Milk Marketing Orders be restricted to those farms who handle 3 million lb. of milk per month or less. The proposed findings are published to today's Federal Register
If approved, larger producer-handlers will have to share their Class I proceeds with other dairy farmers in their respective Federal Orders.
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) applauded the recommendation, say it closes a loophole for the largest such producers. "Once it is finalized, this ruling will accomplish what NMPF sought in its initial petition: To stop about a half-dozen large producer- handlers from cherry picking Class I sales at the expense of other producers in Federal Order pools, and to discourage other handlers from growing through the use of this unfair exemption,” says Jerry Kozak, NMPF president and CEO.
NMPF and the International Dairy Foods Association jointly petitioned USDA last January to place the 3 million lb/month limit on producer handlers. A two-week hearing was held in May on the proposal. The comment period on the proposal is open until December 21, 2009, and a final decision is due February 22, 2010.