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Gillibrand Leads Push to Fairly Compensate Dairy Farmers

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The Chair of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, Poultry, Local Food Systems, and Food Safety and Security, is urging the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to restore the “higher of” Class I pricing formula through the Federal Milk Marketing Order system to fairly compensate dairy farmers and prevent additional losses of Class I skim milk revenue.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said she was joined by a group of 13 bipartisan senators in sending a letter to the USDA highlighting how dairy farmers have lost more than $1.1 billion in Class I skim milk revenue over the past 5 years since the “higher of” Class I pricing formula – the pricing formula for fluid milk, also known as the Class I mover – was modified in the 2018 Farm Bill.

“When the dairy pricing system isn’t working for farmers, the economic ramifications are felt across the country,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The ‘higher of’ Class I mover was in place for nearly two decades prior to it being modified in the last Farm Bill, and despite the best of intentions, the current formula has not performed as intended and has cost dairy farmers over a billion dollars nationwide. Restoring the previous ‘higher of’ Class I mover is the right move to ensure our dairy farmers are properly compensated, and I urge the USDA to restore the formula in the draft and final FMMO changes.”

Prior to the 2018 Farm Bill, Class I milk was calculated using the “higher of” Class III or Class IV price plus the applicable Class I differential. This was changed in the most recent Farm Bill to an averaging method of Class III and Class IV plus $0.74. The resulting loss of income for dairy producers has led to increased calls from the industry for USDA to resolve this issue with the Class I mover through the Federal Milk Marketing Order system.

The letter was also signed by Senators Roger Marshall (R-KS), Bob Casey (D-PA), Mike Braun (R-IN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), John Fetterman (D-PA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Alex Padilla (D-CA), and Patty Murray (D-WA).

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