A law firm in Bakersfield, Calif., representing Eugene Azavedo and a “coalition of dairymen” has submitted a petition to the California Department of Food and Agriculture asking for termination of the California milk quota program, the Quota Implementation Plan (QIP).
In the letter to Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross, posted on the CDFA web site, attorney Kristin Hagan says she has submitted a petition signed by 285 market milk producers. This number represents more than the 25% threshold needed for a producer vote to be held. The current count of California dairies is 1,183.
According to the procedures for submitting such a petition, posted on the CDFA web site on Apr. 3, the next step would be that the market administrator verifies the validity of the names and signatures. If approved, the request for a vote would be submitted to the Producer Review Board (PRB) for its consideration. The Board would then submit its recommendations to the Secretary.
California’s Quota Implementation Plan had been approved by a big majority of producers and was put in place on Nov. 1, simultaneous with the move into the Federal Order System. The original quota program was established in 1969 as a part of the creation of a California milk marketing system that specified minimum prices to be paid to producers and a production base for producers at that time.
According to a CDFA report in January, 674 producers own at least some quota which is expressed in lbs. of fat and SNF produced per cow per day. While quota is an asset that can be bought and sold, only licensed milk producers are eligible to own it. Last year, 67 producers sold quota for an average price of $514 per lb. In 2017 the price was $540 and the year before, $544. Estimates of the total value of quota held by producers is in excess of $1 billion.