WASHINGTON -- Secretaries of Agriculture from 32 states met with Congress last week to voice their discontent over the U.S. Department of Agriculture's reform of the 60-year-old wholesale milk pricing system. At the same time, they pushed for an amendment that they said would better stabilize milk prices.
(R-Pa.), said that more benefit will come from extending and expanding the Northeast Dairy Compact and ratifying the Southern Compact. Senator Specter announced his plan to present this call for an amendment during the upcoming Agriculture Appropriations Conference.
In contrast, the USDA's proposed reform program would reduce the current 31 federal marketing orders to 11, among other things. The orders would still classify milk by use, set minimum prices that handlers would have to pay for each class of milk, and set average prices for dairy farmers supplying a particular region. The USDA estimates the reform is expected to reduce the average retail price of drinking milk by two cents per gallon.
According to U.S. Representative John Boehner (R-Ohio) in a prepared release, 60% of the nation's dairy producers would "fare better" under the USDA's reform program, and "dairy farmers will see an increase in their bottom line of about eight cents per hundred weight.