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Denver>>Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Michael Johanns supporting review of price reporting for nonfat dry milk as called for by National Farmers Union on April 13. Errors in reporting resulted in an income loss to producers of $3.2 million in a single three-week period of March. Investigation revealed that the prices have been reported incorrectly for more than six months. On April 20, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) issued a press statement announcing it will ask 39 plants to review and revise weekly price data and sales volumes reported over the past year.
“It is difficult to absolve the department for today’s situation,” said Kent Peppler, President of RMFU and himself a farmer in Mead, Colorado. “When NASS was given the authority to require dairy plants to report data that impacts product prices, USDA was also provided mandatory auditing authority. To date, no auditing tools have been implemented.”
The RMFU letter urges the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to explain what will be done to prevent future errors, explain why mandated auditing procedures are not being followed, adjust prices for other classes of milk dependent on the price of nonfat dry milk, and indemnify producers for losses resulting from the inaccurate reports.
“Dairy farmers have lost hundreds of millions of dollars, according to National Farmers Union estimates. This is real money lost, at a time when soaring costs threaten the livelihood of America’s dairy farmers. It simply is unacceptable for producers to be held financially accountable for a mistake made by a regulatory authority,” stated Peppler.
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