© Dairy Farmers of America
Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) has revealed it is withdrawing its membership from the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) over IDFA’s petition to modify the federal milk marketing order (FMMO) system.
DFA has 83 processing plants and has been a longstanding member of IDFA. The decision to withdraw follows a proposal from IDFA, which initially focused on changing how make allowances (an estimate of the cost for dairy producers to process milk into dairy products) are configured.
The IDFA said its efforts relating to federal order updates have been ongoing for more than a year, including engaging in an “extensive process” working with members across all segments of the industry. In March, the company met twice with leadership from the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) to seek consensus on priorities for Federal Order reform, but this was not achieved.
A spokesperson for the IDFA told FoodBev: “IDFA then acted on the direction of our boards and filed its petition at the end of March 2023. Since that time, we have updated our initial proposal on make allowances, per USDA’s direction, and submitted a balanced proposal on the Class I mover. It is because of our diverse membership that we can submit a balanced approach that is based on sound data and beneficial to both processors and dairy farmers.”
In a statement announcing its decision to withdraw, DFA said it appreciates the significant value that IDFA provides in supporting the dairy processing and manufacturing sector. However, it described IDFA’s milk pricing proposal to the USDA as “divisive” and a “critical exception” to its generally neutral position on policies lacking full membership consensus.
“This placed DFA in the untenable position of being represented as supporting a policy position, which contradicts what we believe to be in the best interests of our farmer-owners and the dairy industry,” the statement declared.
“Following requests to return to a neutral policy position until a consensus position could be reached, DFA made the difficult decision to submit notice to withdraw from IDFA membership”.
The IDFA spokesperson said that the organisation “cares deeply” about the industry’s future and ensuring its stability, adding that it understands the pressure cooperatives are under relating to the challenge of balancing the interests of farmer-owners with their processing objectives.
“IDFA is a critical part of a growing dairy industry that is responding to rising demand from consumers here and abroad,” the spokesperson commented. “We need to keep our eye on the ball and continue to deliver value for our full membership by supporting and cultivating that continued growth.”
They added that due to the diversity of IDFA’s membership, disagreements are expected, and the organisation’s job is to be inclusive and balance diverse interests.
“We have been here before on federal order reform, and we are confident that we will come out of this stronger. We are confident that we are taking a balanced, inclusive approach that is in the best interest of the full dairy supply chain.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2023