USDA Publishes Final Decision on Amendments to the Appalachian, Florida and Southeast Milk Marketing Orders and Agreements

December 01, 2023

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has published a final decision on amendments to the inter-market transportation credits in the Appalachian and Southeast Federal milk marketing orders (FMMOs) and recommends the establishment of distributing plant delivery credits in the Appalachian, Southeast and Florida FMMOs. The final decision also includes responses to public comments on the recommended decision.

The final decision is a result of a hearing held Feb. 28 – March 2, 2023, in Franklin, Tennessee. The hearing highlighted a long-standing milk deficit problem in the three southeastern orders and its impact on producers, cooperatives and handlers serving the markets. Specifically, in response to declining milk supplies in the Southeast region, these changes will provide transportation cost assistance to ensure farmers are able to deliver milk to where it is needed.

The final decision makes minor changes that refine the proposed provisions based on public comments received.

Recommended amendments to the transportation credit balancing fund provisions in the Appalachian and Southeast FMMOs would:

  • Update the components of the mileage rate calculation.
  • Revise the month of February from a mandatory to a discretionary payment month.
  • Revise the non-reimbursed mileage factor from 85 miles to 15 percent of the miles traveled.
  • Increase the maximum assessment rates on Class I milk.

The final decision also recommends the establishment of distributing plant delivery credit provisions in the Appalachian, Florida and Southeast FMMOs that would make market-wide service payments to qualifying handlers and cooperatives for milk shipments to pool distributing plants from farms that are year-round, consistent suppliers. 

As is required by regulation, when the final decision is published, AMS will determine if producers approve of the proposed amended orders. If producers approve of the proposed amended orders, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will issue a final rule implementing the changes.  

The final decision was published in the Federal Register on December 1, 2023. Copies of the hearing notice may be obtained from USDA/AMS/Dairy Program; STOP 0225 - Rm. 2530; 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250-0225. The hearing record is also available on the AMS website.

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