Over 90 Farmer, Labor, Environmental, Consumer Groups Demand Fair Dairy Policy Reform

NFFCPress Room

NFFC’s new Milk from Family Dairies Act proposal calls for economic justice for farmers & rural communities

November 10, 2021

Jordan Treakle, NFFC National Programs & Policy Coordinator
jordan@nffc.net, (202) 543-5675

Washington, DC — A broad coalition of over 90 organizations sent a letter to Congress calling for sweeping reforms to the US dairy industry based on ensuring a just price to farmers, supply management, and increased competition. Alongside the letter, National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC) released its new Milk from Family Dairies Act (MFDA), based on these principles.

“It is time for a new direction in the dairy industry,” said Jim Goodman, NFFC Board President and retired Wisconsin dairy farmer. “We are proud to have labor, environmental, consumer, and anti-hunger allies standing with dairy farmers. The principles in the Milk from Family Dairies Act will bring economic justice for dairy producers, workers, and the communities that depend on them.”

For decades, below cost-of-production milk prices have led tens of thousands of US family-based dairy farmers to sell their cows and farms, a long-term crisis that worsened during COVID-19. Tragically, some have been driven to take their own lives.

The five pillars of a just dairy reform policy outlined in the letter and detailed in the Milk from Family Dairies Act are:

  • Price floors allowing family-scale dairy farmers to cover their costs of operation;
  • Production management mechanisms balancing U.S. dairy supply with demand;
  • Managed imports and exports supporting farmer incomes and worker rights;
  • Measures restoring competition to the sector; and
  • Investment and incentives rebuilding regional dairy infrastructures.

Katie Baildon, Policy Coordinator of Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY), said, “New York is the third-largest dairy state and home to the greatest number of certified organic dairy farms. Family dairy farmers in the Northeast and across the country have struggled with low prices and market uncertainty for years and it has forced too many out of the business altogether. It is time for a national conversation about bold solutions for better dairy markets and organic pricing.” NOFA-NY is a signatory to the letter and a member of NFFC.

Anthony Pahnke, Board Vice President of Family Farm Defenders, an NFFC member organization, said, “Our current dairy policy does too little to confront domestic overproduction due to the unfettered growth of factory dairy farms, milk price volatility aggravated by lack of federal antitrust enforcement, and unrestricted import of dubious dairy byproducts. Farmers, workers, and the environment get hurt by this wasteful, cruel system. The Milk from Family Dairies Act is a policy step in the right direction, addressing unfair dairy pricing and production concerns in ways that could stabilize rural communities and benefit consumers.”

Rome Aloise, Director of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Dairy Conference, a signatory to the letter, said, “The Teamsters join the call for dairy policy reform. Working with milk producers and processors and our supporters on Capitol Hill, we will advance a shared agenda to put family farmers and working families at the center of the debate about the future of the dairy industry at home and in International trade.”

Emma Sirois, National Director of Healthy Food in Health Care at Health Care Without Harm, a signatory to the letter, said: “A healthy food system starts on the farm — with farmers and workers making a living wage; farm practices that ensure clean soil, water and air, while addressing climate change; and production of nutritious food that supports local farm economies and contributes to community health. Unfortunately, too much of US farm policy puts these goals out of reach. It’s time for a change — family dairy farmers and their communities deserve a new farm policy that puts their needs first.” Health Care Without Harm is a leading global network of advocacy organizations centered on healthcare equity and environmental sustainability.

NFFC developed the Milk from Family Dairies Act in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, based on elements of former U.S. policy, the Canadian dairy industry, and dairy price proposals from member groups and allies. The policy principles on which the MFDA is based will ensure transparency and fair prices for family dairy farmers, guarantee reliable and reasonably-priced dairy products for consumers, and revitalize rural areas economically and environmentally – all at significant savings to taxpayers.

Read the letter to Congress with all 90+ signing organizations: https://nffc.net/national-call-for-fair-prices-systemic-dairy-policy-reform/.
Read the full policy details of the Milk from Family Dairies Act: https://nffc.net/nffc-introduces-the-milk-from-family-dairies-act/.


NFFC’s mission is to mobilize family farmers, ranchers, and fishermen to achieve fair prices, vibrant communities, and healthy foods free of corporate domination.