Dairy farmers across the country continue to grapple with federal milk pricing flaws exacerbated by the pandemic, according to Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative.
So, Edge member told a U.S. Senate panel that reform is needed for the “distorted system” that she says is now coming unglued.
Christina Zuiderveen, who farms with her family in Iowa and South Dakota, focused among other things on disparities in the prices farmers are paid, the negative impact of pricing factors on farmers’ ability to utilize risk management tools and the potential benefits of pricing transparency.
Zuiderveen testified on Capitol Hill at a hearing of a subcommittee of the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry. Senators were examining potential improvements to the Federal Milk Marketing Orders in the wake of negative producer price differentials that began cutting into many farmers’ revenue last year during the pandemic.
“This system was put in place decades ago to prevent dairy processors from making one dairy farmer bid against the other. In other words, FMMOs promise dairy producers that if their milk is as good as their neighbor’s, they will be paid the same price,” she said. “But, after decades of decline in sales of fluid milk, that promise now seems to be broken.”
She says that although her business benefited under the system last year, she was advocating for change because she wants a “fair system” where everyone can compete on a level playing field.
Edge, based in Green Bay, aims to provide dairy farmers throughout the Midwest with a voice in Congress and with customers.