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U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), incoming chair of the U.S. Senate Ag Committee, outlined initial priority items her committee expects to address in the 117th Congress. Previewing plans during a conference call with agricultural media, Jan. 28, Stabenow said any discussions on Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) reform are not yet on the agenda, although she anticipates the topic will come up.

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Milk production growth continued its torrid pace in December 2020, up 3.1% from December 2019 and pushing total annual output up more than 2% compared to a year earlier. The preliminary report, released Jan. 25, indicated milk production growth rate in the 24 major dairy states was slightly higher, up 3.2% in December and 2.2% for the year.

The most staggering numbers in the report relate to both the growth and size of the U.S. dairy herd. At 9.443 million, December 2020 cow numbers were up by 100,000 head from a year earlier. In the 24 major dairy states, cow numbers were estimated at 8.923 million head, up by 107,000 head. Based on USDA historical data, the last time there were this many cows in the U.S. dairy herd was during the second half of 1995.

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Dean Foods must pay more than $29 million it owes to Federal Milk Marketing Orders (FMMOs) for milk procurred last spring prior to the company’s bankruptcy sale, according to the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). The amount represents about 90% of Dean’s delinquent payments for milk marketed through FMMOs from April 1-May 4, 2020.

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