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Faced with cost increases, Braum's will focus on quality

BY JENNIFER PALMER Modified: April 16, 2009 at 6:37 am •  Published: April 16, 2009
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.


What is the producer-handler exemption?

Producer-handlers are dairy farmers who process milk from their own cows, in their own plants and market the packaged milk themselves. This designation allows the farmers to opt out of pricing and pooling provisions set by the USDA, which sets a uniform price farmers are paid for their milk. Currently, 40 U.S. dairies are producer-handlers, down from more than 400 dairies in the 1960s. Producer-handlers supply about 1.5 percent of the country’s milk.

Sources: USDA,

American Independent

Dairy Alliance

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