The American Dairy Coalition has announced policy goals designed to increase milk prices and strengthen farmers’ voice.

The “emerging priorities” were announced May 2 after two virtual forums about the federal milk marketing orders.

The group supports changing the Class I (fluid milk) price calculation back to a method using the higher of the Class III or IV price.

To improve buyers’ ability to hedge, the 2018 Farm Bill changed the formula to an average of the two class prices plus a fixed adjuster.

But unusual market conditions early in the pandemic caused this pricing mechanism to go negative for several months and reduce many farmers’ income.

The coalition also wants milk checks to be simplified and provide added clarity about how farmers are paid. This policy stems from the concern that cooperatives’ interests may conflict with farmers’ because some co-ops have developed large processing businesses.

Many farmers also want to remove bloc voting, in which a cooperative votes on behalf of its members in federal order referendums. Farmers would like to vote confidentially and individually, coalition CEO Laurie Fischer said.

Despite simmering frustration, the coalition said farmers have faced obstacles in their efforts to change the system. The federal milk pricing system is notoriously complex, and some farmers fear losing their markets if they voice their opinions.

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