TUTTLE — If faced with either raising prices or "cheapening” his dairy products, Drew Braum said he vows to continue his high standard for quality.
That could mean customers will pay a premium price for Braum’s premium ice cream or milk.
Two dairy trade groups — the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Milk Producers Federation — have asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to eliminate the producer-handler exemption in the U.S.
They argue that producer-handlers have an unfair advantage because they milk their own cows; other dairy farmers are paid using a minimum price set by the USDA.
"All we’re asking is that Braum’s be on the same footing as other bottlers,” said Chris Galen, a spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation, an organization that represents 30 co-ops comprised of about 40,000 farmers. Braum’s and six other dairies who have formed the American Independent Dairy Alliance oppose the proposal and are fighting to keep their producer-handler exemption, which has been in place since the 1930s. Each provides a niche product such as organic milk, home delivery in glass bottles or artisan ice cream.