The Dairy Production Stabilization Act of 1983, as amended, (Dairy Act) (7 U.S.C. 4501, et seq.) authorized a national producer program for generic dairy product promotion, research, and nutrition education as part of a comprehensive strategy to increase human consumption of milk and dairy products. Dairy farmers fund this self-help program through a mandatory 15-cent per hundredweight assessment on all milk produced in the contiguous 48 States and marketed commercially. Dairy farmers administer the national program through the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board (Dairy Board). The Dairy Act provides that dairy farmers can receive a credit of up to 10 cents per hundredweight of the assessment for contributions to qualified State or regional dairy product promotion, research, or nutrition education programs (Qualified Programs).
The Dairy Order became effective on May 1, 1984. The Dairy Act required the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct a referendum among dairy farmers by September 30, 1985, to determine if a majority favored continuation of the program. Nearly 90 percent of the dairy farmers voting in the August-September 1985 referendum favored continuing the program. USDA held a second referendum on the dairy promotion program in August 1993. Approximately 71 percent of the dairy farmers who voted in the referendum favored continuing the program. USDA will hold future referenda at the direction of the Secretary or upon the request of at least 10 percent of the affected dairy farmers.
The Dairy Board portion of the revenue from the 15-cent per hundredweight producer assessment was $95.5 million for 2008 (including assessments and interest), and Qualified Programs revenue from the producer assessment was $189 million for the same year. Revenue from assessments for the Dairy Board and many of the Qualified Programs is integrated through a joint process of planning and program implementation so that the programs on the national, regional, State, and local level work together.