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Policies, Politics and the Way We Price Milk. Mark Stephenson Director of Dairy Policy Analysis. What Is Special About Milk?. It’s perishable It’s bulky It’s produced and must be sold 365 days a year Specialized assets for production Many more sellers than buyers

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Policies politics and the way we price milk
Policies, Politics and the Way We Price Milk

Mark Stephenson

Director of Dairy Policy Analysis

What is special about milk
What Is Special About Milk?

  • It’s perishable

  • It’s bulky

  • It’s produced and must be sold 365 days a year

  • Specialized assets for production

  • Many more sellers than buyers

  • Relatively inelastic demand for products

  • Historically led to “destructive competition”

Federal milk marketing orders
Federal Milk Marketing Orders

  • Cooperatives had modest success in policing the marketplace

  • Federal government instituted Marketing Agreements

  • Shortly thereafter, Marketing Agreements became Marketing Orders

  • Marketing Orders act like a traffic cop in the market

    • They regulate the terms of trade

    • They measure

    • They assure compliance

Classified pricing
Classified Pricing

  • Class I — generally highest price

  • Class II

  • Class III

  • Class IV — generally lowest price

What is consistent with this ordering?

These are minimum prices to be paid!


  • Processors contribute differently to the Federal Order Pool, but producers receive the blended value.

Regulating minimum prices
Regulating Minimum Prices



Over-Order Premiums will get you back here.









Benefits of fmmo for producers
Benefits of FMMO for Producers

  • Classified pricing can improve producer returns but it is not a price support—Markets must still clear.

  • Pooling is about equity—sharing in those higher returns

    • Sharing a pool comes at a cost—qualification and performance

  • Plants are audited

  • Prices are coordinated across markets (efficiency in transportation)

Benefits for processors
Benefits for Processors

  • Plants know that their competitors are paying at least the minimum class price.

  • Manufacturing plants get a “pool draw” to pay their producers the same uniform or blend price.

  • Both producers and processors benefit from federal order data

    • Testing

    • Audited milk production

    • Transportation, etc.

Ingredient product streams
Ingredient & Product Streams




Sweet Cream


Dried Whey

Let’s survey the market price for these products and back into a milk price.

Whey Cream


We want to price this.




Product price formulas
Product Price Formulas

  • Based on weekly AMS surveys of product sold

Product price formulas1
Product Price Formulas

Butterfat Price = (Butter price - 0.1715) x 1.211

Make Allowance - What does it cost you to transform milk into 1 pound of butter?

Yield Factor - How many pounds of butter can you make from 1 pound of butterfat?

Product price formulas2
Product Price Formulas

  • Dairy producers want a small make allowance and a large yield factor

  • Dairy processors want a large make allowance and a small yield factor

  • How do you determine the correct parameter values?

The issue of make allowance
The Issue of Make Allowance

  • Who’s price?

    • Highest

    • Lowest

    • Average

Minimum milk price to producers
Minimum Milk Price to Producers

  • Pounds of Butterfat

  • Pounds of Protein

  • Pounds of Other Solids (lactose + minerals)

  • Quality (Somatic Cell)

  • Total Pounds of Milk

Premiums often paid over order
Premiums often paid (over order)

  • Quality (somatic cell, bacteria)

  • Volume

  • Protein

  • Plant or Market

  • Hauling subsidies

New policy
New Policy?

  • Use policy to fix problems that the market or an individual can’t

    • Standards of identity

    • FMMOs

    • Price Support Program

  • Policy fails when it does too little or too much

    • Eg. Price Support Program

  • Policy does not determine the end result—only the path that the market takes

Today s issues
Today’s Issues

  • Price Volatility

    • Much discussion since about 2006

      • Refundable Assessments (Milk Producers’ Council, 2007)

      • Mandatory CWT (Dairy Farmers Working Together, 2007)

      • Growth Management Plan (Milk Producer’s Council, 2009)

      • Dairy Growth Management Initiative (DFA, 2009)

      • Marginal Milk Pricing (Agri-Mark, 2010)

      • Dairy Market Stabilization Program (NMPF, 2010)

      • Farm Savings Accounts (discussed by DIAC, 2010)

      • Margin Insurance Programs (NMPF’s DPMPP and discussed by DIAC, 2010-11)

      • Market Cow Bonus Program (DPAC, 2011)

      • Farm Savings Accounts (again, processor groups, 2011)

      • Peterson Discussion Draft (July 2011; modified DMSP)

      • Dairy Security Act of 2011 (September 2011)

      • Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act of 2011 (Casey, October 2011)

      • Rural Economic Farm and Ranch Sustainability and Hunger Act of 2011 (October 2011)

    • Most have focused on supply correction (temporary quota, cull cow)

    • Some have focused on self-help (better LGM-D, FSA, etc.)

Price risk
Price Risk!

U.S. All Milk Price

We have four cycles
We Have Four Cycles

  • There appears to be a 9 month cycle

  • There appears to be an annual cycle

  • There appears to be a 26 month cycle

  • There appears to be a 36 month cycle

Volatility in inputs too
Volatility in Inputs Too

NASS Dairy Feed Ration

Some variation of the the dairy security act of 2011 is the starting point
Some Variation of the The Dairy Security Act of 2011 is the Starting Point

  • Cost savings by repeal of MILC, DPPSP & DEIP

  • New safety net with margin protection insurance

  • Reduce milk price volatility with temporary reductions in milk supply

Points to consider
Points to Consider Starting Point

  • The program is voluntary.

  • Margin Insurance and the Market Stabilization are linked—you can’t have one without the other.

  • You would have several months to make a decision to register after the bill is enacted.

  • If you register, you will need to make a decision at that time about the level of insurance and the percent of milk.

The margin
The Margin Starting Point

  • NASS All Milk Price


  • Ration Value

    • NASS corn, NASS alfalfa hay, AMS Soybean Meal

Dairy producer margin protection program
Dairy Producer Margin Protection Program Starting Point

  • $4 base margin coverage is free

  • Partially subsidized premiums for supplemental coverage (25%–90% of base)

  • Run by FSA

  • Calculated as

    2 month pairs




Historic trigger values
Historic Trigger Values Starting Point

Margin protection details
Margin Protection Details Starting Point

  • If you register, your historic base will be highest annual production in the previous three years.

    • New producers can register within 180 days of first milk production. Will prorate annual production.

  • You get margin protection on 80% of this historic base for free.

  • Your annual production history is updated every year.

Margin protection details1
Margin Protection Details Starting Point

  • If you want to protect more than free margin base, you can buy up in 50¢ increments

  • You can protect from 25% to 90 % of your production base.

  • This election is made at the time you register and continues throughout the life of the bill but the levels of supplemental insurance can be changed each year.

  • Annual premiums must be paid by Jan 15 or in 2 installments.

Example margin protection
Example Margin Protection Starting Point

  • Your historic base is 20 million pounds

  • You choose a $5.50 margin protection level at 75% of your production

  • Two years later you have grown to 30 million pounds.

Example margin protection1
Example Margin Protection Starting Point

  • If margin is calculated as $3.50 average for two months.

    • Indemnity is triggered

    • You are paid $4.00 - $3.50 = 50¢ on your historic base = 50¢ * (200,000cwt / 6 ) * 80% = $13,333

    • You receive a supplemental payment of $5.50 - $4.00 = $1.50 on your production base = $1.50 * (300,000cwt / 6) * 75% = $56,250

    • Total 2 month payment = $13,333 + $56,250= $69,583

Dairy market stabilization program
Dairy Market Stabilization Program Starting Point

  • Uses same margin trigger calculation

  • The average trigger value is based on consecutive two-month periods

    • E.g., Jan-Feb, Feb-Mar, Mar-Apr, etc.

  • Different milk production base

    • Most recent 3-month average

    • Same month from previous year

    • Can select which base calculation each year by Jan 15

Dairy market stabilization program1
Dairy Market Stabilization Program Starting Point

  • Triggers if 2-month average margin is below $6

    • $5—$6, no payment on milk over 2% of base to 6% of current marketings

    • $4—$5, no payment on milk over 3% of base to 7% of current marketings

  • Triggers if 1-month average margin is below $4

    • Under $4, no payment on milk over 4% of base to 8% of current marketings

Dairy market stabilization program2
Dairy Market Stabilization Program Starting Point

  • Triggers can increase

    • For example, if you were in a $6 trigger event and next month’s calculated 2-month average is now below $5, the more restrictive trigger is active.

    • It appears as though if it is a long trigger event, a rolling 3-month base can incorporate your reduced marketings.

    • Program is suspended when 2-month average is above $6 or U.S. price for cheddar or NFDM is more than 20% higher than world prices.

Modeling the dsa
Modeling the DSA Starting Point

  • Need many assumptions about participation

  • Look at Baseline and 2 scenarios

    • High participation, 50% of producers register in each of 4 farm size categories and choose to protect 60% of their milk at a $6 margin.

    • Low Participation differs by farm size: 10%, 5%, 2.5% and 1% of S, M, L, XL protect 50% of milk at $5.

All milk price
All Milk Price Starting Point

Government expenditures
Government Expenditures Starting Point