Ag News

SE Milk Marketing Order amendments take effect March 1

by Georgia Farm Bureau

Posted on Mar 01, 2024 at 1:13 AM

On Feb. 1, USDA AMS announced the final adoption of amendments to the three Southeastern Federal Orders (F.O. 5, 6, & 7). On Dec. 1, 2023, USDA released it final rule and ordered a producer referendum to approve or deny the amendments. According to USDA, more than two-thirds of participating producers approved the proposed changes to the Appalachian, Florida, and Southeastern orders. The amendments take effect March 1.

These amendments included updates to the components of the mileage rate calculation of the transportation credit balancing fund (TCBF), revising the months of mandatory and discretionary payment for T-credits, revising the non-reimbursed mileage factor, and increasing the maximum assessment rate on Class I milk.

The rule also creates a new distributing plant delivery credit (DPDC) that will make service payments to qualifying handlers and co-ops for milk shipments to pool distributing plants from farms that are year-round suppliers. For Georgia producers, this means handlers will be able to secure a DPDC payment for milk that travels from Georgia to pool plants in Florida on a consistent basis.

In other dairy news, enrollment in the Dairy Margin Coverage program began Feb. 27 after publication of the rule in the Federal Register next week.

The program will be retroactive to Jan. 1 and coverage will be available through December. AFBF previously sent a letter to Deputy Under Secretary Gloria Montaño Greene and Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux urging them to open enrollment for the Dairy Margin Coverage program as soon as possible. Implementation delays resulted from adjustments to the program made when the 2018 farm bill was extended, and necessary technical updates.

Dairy Margin Coverage is a risk management tool offered through the farm bill that provides support to farmers when the price of milk falls below the cost of supplies.

USDA’s February milk production reports show that between 2018 and 2023 the number of licensed dairy herds has declined by 9,546 across the United States. This loss of dairy farms is one of the reasons AFBF has advocated for reforms to the Federal Milk Marketing Order system, and for efficient and timely implementation of farm safety net programs.

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