WASHINGTON (WETM) — Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) held a hearing on Wednesday to address milk pricing improvements and reforms. The hearing was live-streamed on CSPAN and online.

Gillibrand will convene a panel of witnesses to receive testimony on the growing need to modernize the Federal Milk Marketing Order System to bring the nation’s dairy pricing to the 21st-century market. According to agriculture activists, the formula the USDA uses to price milk does not cover the cost of production for dairy farmers.

“This is why you are seeing so many of our dairy farmers leave the business,” said Arden Tewksbury, Manager of Progressive Agriculture Organization. “Not because they want to, but because they cannot cover their costs, so they just decide to give up.”

The overall number of licensed dairy farms in the U.S. has decreased by over 50% since 2003. Now, approximately 30,000 remain.

“If you have a market that’s fundamentally flawed and constantly see the loss of producers unable to survive in the industry, there’s a problem,” Gillibrand said during a May 26 press conference. “We need a very thorough investigation of my concerns.”

The Dairy Subcommittee hearing included a panel of dairy farmers, processors, and experts in dairy policy and economics, such as professors, and more. Tewksbury thinks more local dairy farmers need a voice at these hearings.

“The average-sized dairy farmer will not have one word to say at this hearing,” said Tewksbury. “What we want is a hearing where the Senator allows 15 to 25 dairy farmers to tell them how things really are.”