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California Federal Milk Marketing Order referendum set for April 2 through May 5

Progressive Dairyman Editor Dave Natzke Published on 02 April 2018

The fate of a proposed Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) in California is now in the hands of the state’s dairy farmers. The USDA published a Federal Register notice advancing the proposed FMMO to a producer referendum, April 2 through May 5.

The USDA will mail ballot materials to all known eligible dairy producers supplying milk to the proposed marketing area. The FMMO would become effective if approved by two-thirds of the voting producers, or by producers of two-thirds of the milk represented in the voting process.

Public meeting planned

The USDA will hold a public meeting, April 10, beginning at 9 a.m., in Clovis, California, to answer questions related to how the proposed California FMMO would operate and how eligible dairy producers can participate in the referendum. Interested parties will have the opportunity to attend in person or watch the meeting live via webcast. Meeting details, as well as information regarding the producer referendum, are available on the AMS website.

WUD sets informational meetings

Western United Dairymen (WUD) has scheduled three California informational meetings to present independent economic analysis. Dates and locations are:

• April 16, 10 a.m., Sonoma County Farm Bureau, Santa Rosa

• April 17, 9 a.m., Stanislaus County Harvest Hall, Modesto

• April 18, 10 a.m., Tulare Agri-Center, Tulare

RSVPs are appreciated by email or phone (209) 527-6453.

The California FMMO final decision contains no substantive changes to a preliminary rule released in February 2017, according to Geoff Vanden Heuvel, California Milk Producers board member and economics consultant.

As proposed, the California FMMO primarily adopts the uniform order provisions contained in the 10 current FMMOs in the national system. These uniform provisions include, but are not limited to, dairy product classification, end-product price formulas and the producer-handler definition. The proposed order would recognize the unique market structure of the California dairy industry through tailored, performance-based standards to determine eligibility for pool participation. The proposed order provides for the recognition of producer quota as administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

California represents over 18 percent of all U.S. milk production and is currently regulated by a state milk marketing order administered by CDFA.

Along with issuing this final decision, USDA conducted a Regulatory Economic Impact Analysis to determine the potential impact of regulating California milk handlers under a FMMO on the milk supply, product demand and prices, and milk allocation in California and throughout the U.S.

For other information, visit USDA’s California Milk Marketing Order website.  end mark

Dave Natzke
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