Five dairy cooperatives filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in District Columbia to prevent U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman from implementing the most recent milk-pricing formulas, scheduled to begin April 1.
The plaintiffs, from Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington, allege the formulas give an unfair advantage to dairy processors in California.
The new formulas, according to the Northwest Dairy Association, one of the plaintiffs, would raise the minimum price of milk to federally regulated cheese plants in ways that plants could not recover from the marketplace.
"This jeopardizes the ability of dairy farmers to sell milk to federally regulated cheese plants, which would be required to pay substantially higher prices for raw milk than are paid by their competitors in states like California that are not under the federal system," the association stated in a press release.
The complaint seeks an injunction to prevent the USDA from implementing the Class III portion of the formula and seeks to reopen federal hearings regarding the formulas creation.