CA: Producer Review Board Sets Quota Petition Rules

Geoff Vanden Heuvel, Director of Regulatory and Economic Affairs Milk Producers Council

As producers in California may know, there is a petition effort going on seeking to end the quota program in the state. The Producer Review Board (PRB) met on December 19 to flesh out the rules under which any petition regarding the Quota Implementation Plan (QIP) would be considered. The QIP itself spells out the basic parameters of its administration in Article 11 of the document.

Article 11. Administration has the following sections:

Section 1100. A producer survey shall be conducted by an independent party selected by the Producer Review Board at least every five (5) years. The survey shall evaluate the effectiveness of the Plan.

Section 1101. Substantive, or significant amendments to this Plan require a producer referendum to be held in the same manner as the referendum approving this plan. Section

Section 1102. The Secretary, after consultation with the Producer Review Board, may make non-substantive changes to this Plan.

Section 1103. Upon the receipt of a petition signed by at least 25 percent of market milk producers regarding the amendment or termination of this Plan, the Secretary shall convene the Producer Review Board to review the merits of the petition and make a recommendation to the Secretary.

If the Secretary finds that the Plan no longer tends to effectuate the purpose intended, termination shall be submitted for referendum in the same manner as provided for its initial approval.

The PRB developed a document at the Dec. 19 meeting titled “Procedures for Submitting a Petition for Substantive Amendments or Termination of the Quota Implementation Plan (QIP).” In that document, procedures for petitions were adopted. In general, the rules they established seek to assure two things:

  1. That a petition contains information in the petition itself outlining what is being proposed and why, so signers are informed about what they are signing.
  2. That the signatures of the producers are valid. This is done by instructing the Department after the receipt of a petition to mail to each petition signer a return receipt with a control number which must be returned to the Department to confirm the intent of the person signing the petition.

If a valid number of producers have signed the petition, the Secretary is required to schedule a meeting of the Producer Review Board to review the merits of the petition, adopt findings and make a recommendation to the Secretary. The Secretary then decides based on that recommendation. If the Secretary decides substantive changes should be considered, then a referendum of California producers must be held.

For a referendum to pass, at least 51% of the total number of eligible producers in the state have to vote, and at least 51% percent of those voting who produce at least 65% percent of the milk produced by all producers who voted in the referendum, or at least 65% of those voting who produced at least 51% of the milk produced by all producers who voted in the referendum, must vote in favor for the referendum for the proposed change to be adopted.

The PRB has adopted these procedure rules. Time will tell if a petition comes forth that meets the standard.

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