“Your decision is looking at a system rather than a price,” was the message from Dana Coale of USDA who led the meeting for producers on April 10 in Clovis, Calif. The session attracted some 150 producers, co-op directors and staff, processors and other ag business people. The meeting agenda included a description of the rule making process, a detailed review of key Federal Order elements included in the California proposal and finally a question and answer session. The meeting was webcast and a recording will be available on the USDA website. (See below.)
As Deputy Administrator of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, Dairy Programs, Ms. Coale has led this project from the beginning back in 2015. She explained the current timeline beginning with USDA’s issuing of the final rule for the FMMO proposal on Mar. 30. Producers will voting “yes or no” from Apr. 9 until May 5.
Two thirds of the producers voting must approve for it to pass, or those in favor must represent 2/3 of the total milk produced by those voting. Five coops have been recognized as having the ability to bloc vote for their members. While USDA specifically would not identify them, indications were that the “big three” here, California Dairies, Land O’ Lakes and DFA, would bloc vote after holding member information meetings. It is widely expected the co-ops will be in favor of the of the order since it closely matches what they originally proposed. However, no co-op official would speak on the record about their decision.
According to Administrator Coale, if approved, the announcement and documents will appear in the Federal Register about June 1. During the summer months, USDA staff will be meeting with processors, referred to as handlers in USDA terminology, so they are able to understand and prepare for the significantly different procedures required. She told the group a tentative target date of November 1 for implementation has been set. She emphasized every effort would be made so there is a seamless transition from the California order to the new Federal Order.
To see all of the documents relating to the proposed California FMMO go to https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/moa/dairy/ca
For a concise background of how the California state order was developed and why a Federal Order has been proposed, see the blog post by Geoff Vanden Heuvel here at https://www.dairybusiness.com/our-big-decision-geoff-vanden-heuvel-offers-this-perspective-on-the-evolution-of-milk-marketing-regulations-in-california/.