Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) has withdrawn its membership from the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) following the latter’s petition to modify the Federal Milk Marketing Order.

The largest dairy cooperative in the United States, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), has resigned from the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), demonstrating a rift between dairy processors and milk farmers over plans to revise the Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO).

DFA has been a member of IDFA, which initially represented dairy processors but recently declared its desire to represent the entire dairy industry, as well as the National Milk Producers Federation, which directly represents farmers and their cooperatives.

Matt Herrick, IDFA senior vice president
Matt Herrick, IDFA senior vice president for public affairs and communications

The FMMOs should be modified according to both NMPF and IDFA, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a former U.S. Dairy Export Council CEO, asked the two organisations to collaborate on a joint plan. But the two organizations failed to reach agreement and submitted separate proposals to USDA.

In a statement announcing its decision to withdraw, DFA 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, FoodBev.com reported.

“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 said.

Politico reported that Land O’Lakes, another major cooperative, is no longer listed as a member of IDFA and pointed out that Land O’Lakes had joined DFA and two other groups in a letter to USDA opposing the FMMO modernization proposal submitted by IDFA and Wisconsin Cheese Makers.

In a statement to The Hagstrom Report, Matt Herrick, IDFA senior vice president for public affairs and communications, said, “IDFA is a large and diverse association that represents all parts of the dairy value chain, and our job is to be inclusive and balance the association’s diverse interests. We have been here before on federal order reform, and we are confident that we will come out of this stronger.”

IDFA has submitted two proposals as directed by our boards — one that asks USDA to adjust make allowances, which are nearly 20 years out of date, as well as a proposal on Class I milk pricing. We are confident that we are taking a balanced, inclusive approach that is in the best interest of the full dairy supply chain. Several other dairy associations and companies have submitted proposals that align with IDFA’s positions, as well.

“We have hundreds of members and are very healthy and well-positioned to continue to bring value to our members, which will always include dairy cooperatives.”

The U.S. dairy industry continues to go through a period of great evolution and transition that opens new growth opportunities,” Herrick added. “Today’s U.S. dairy industry has evolved from one based on producing nutritious milk for drinking to an industry defined by a robust, innovative supply chain also making nutritious, value-added products like cheese, yogurt, dairy-based health beverages and powders, frozen treats, and so much more. The value in our industry is diverse and as our industry continues to evolve, we must have policies in place to support continued success and evolution. IDFA’s approach to milk pricing reflects a balanced, inclusive approach that is in the best interest of the full dairy supply chain.”

“NMPF is proud to represent U.S. dairy farmers and their own cooperatives. We’re looking forward to discussing our comprehensive proposal for Federal Milk Marketing Order modernization and are eager to take full advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve milk marketing for the benefit of farmers and the entire industry,” said Alan Bjerga, NMPF senior vice president of communications.

subscribe processed food industry magazine