Dairy price discovery has been a contentious issue for dairy farmers, especially when those prices are used to determine how much they receive for their milk.
This week, USDA proposed a rule making electronic dairy product price reporting mandatory.
“It’s been a while in coming, but electronic dairy product price reporting may finally be implemented,” Dave Natzke, Dairy Profit Weekly editor reported.
With wholesale prices for cheese, butter and other products used in complex federal milk marketing order formulas which set minimum milk prices paid to farmers, accurate and timely information is necessary.
For years, that has meant processors have filed weekly paper reports.
Electronic reporting requirements were included in the 2008 Farm Bill, but only when USDA was able to come up with the money to implement the program.
Last year, however, Congress passed the Mandatory Price Reporting Act, setting a one-year deadline for USDA to implement electronic reporting.
The plan introduced by USDA this week doesn’t change the frequency or numbers of dairy products that must be reported, and exempts processors marketing less than 1 million lbs. of products a year.
It requires USDA to publish weekly price report summaries on Wednesday each week, instead of the current Friday morning report. USDA is accepting public comments until Aug. 9, and will issue a final rule some time this fall.
That program will likely have the most impact on dairy processors, but Natzke told DairyLine that a bill introduced this week could impact dairy farmers even more.
“Ironically, the legislation also has to do with electronic reporting, this one dealing with the system that tracks workers in the United States,” he said.
Under the Legal Workforce Act, introduced by Texas Republican Lamar Smith, use of the federal government’s “E-Verify” system would become mandatory for all U.S. employers within two years.
Designed to identify illegal immigrants in the U.S. workforce, the bill repeals the current “I-9” paper-based system, and requires businesses to verify the immigration status of all new employees on a federal electronic database. The bill offers a 1-year extension to agriculture, including dairy farms, making use of E-Verify mandatory within 3 years.