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Big Year of Dairy Policy Work Ahead in 2024

Chad Smith

Associate News Service Editor, NAFB

Daniel Munch

Economist

photo credit: Mark Stebnicki, North Carolina Farm Bureau

The new year will bring several dairy policy topics to the forefront. Chad Smith has more on some of the key dairy issues for 2024.

Smith: Many opportunities for change and improvement in U.S. dairy policy have been delayed until 2024 or are in the formal rulemaking process. Danny Munch, an economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation, says the farm bill extension has delayed work on some of the priorities.
Munch: Some of our dairy-related farm bill priorities are on the back burner. So, this includes things like pricing-related adjustments we were looking for, like authorization of a mandatory and audited survey of processor costs and yields, a switch back to the higher-of Class One mover, and authorizing modified block voting, as well as some of our Dairy Margin Coverage changes related to production history and tier one coverage limitations.
Smith: He says those conversations will continue when Congress is back in session next year. Also continuing next year are the Federal Milk Marketing Order hearings, which will resume in mid-January.
Munch: USDA will be reconvening the hearing yet again at 8 a.m. on January 16, still in the same location in Carmel, Indiana. Once completed, there are still many other steps in this process. USDA will publish the transcript from everything that was said, 1000s of pages. Parties can then file corrections to that transcript, and then parties will file post-hearing briefs or their final comments. Based on the transcripts, USDA will publish a recommended decision in the Federal Register. Parties can then comment on that, and then the USDA will issue a final decision which farmers will then vote on in a referendum.
Smith: The final issue on the horizon for early 2024 is the Dairy Margin Coverage program.
Munch: Dairy margin coverage enrollment has still not yet been reopened. I reached out to FSA and they said language in the 2018 farm bill requires a regulatory change that they have to publish in the Federal Register before they can hold the signup, so there's a delay there. There are also some software updates they said they had to put in place first. So, they don't have a date in mind yet but said enrollment will occur. Once it does open, they say protection should be retroactive to any month that it's delayed through.
Smith: Keep up to date with these issues at fb.org. Chad Smith, Washington.