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California Ag Secretary Forms Dairy Future Task Force

September 4, 2012
By: Catherine Merlo, Dairy Today Western and Online Editor google + 
CDFA Secretary Karen Ross Portrait   Copy
CDFA Secretary Karen Ross wants task force members to begin work as soon as possible.  

Goal is to seek long-term solutions for state’s struggling dairy industry, with recommendations developed by year’s end.

Seeking long-term solutions for the state’s dairy industry, California ag secretary Karen Ross has invited 32 dairy farmers, cooperatives and processors to serve on a new California Dairy Future Task Force.

“I am determined to work with the dairy community to make the changes necessary to position farmers to take advantage of . . . opportunities and maintain California’s status as a world leader in dairy production well into the future,” Ross writes in today’s “Planting Seeds,” a blog from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

“It is imperative that task force members begin work as soon as possible and strive to develop recommendations by the end of the year,” she adds.

The nationwide drought has driven up feed prices and caused significant new problems for California’s dairies, many still struggling to recover from the steep financial losses suffered in the economic collapse in 2008 and 2009. The industry’s level of volatility is the new reality for dairy farmers, says Ross.

“If we have learned one thing from this crisis, it is that the current regulatory and pricing system needs to change, and all sectors of the industry need to collaborate and develop reforms that can bring new markets and new stability to the marketplace,” she notes.

Ross has asked all task force members and dairy stakeholders to familiarize themselves with a report by global management consultant McKinsey and Company, which was commissioned by the California Milk Advisory Board in 2006. The McKinsey report provided concepts for long-term sustainability and industry growth over a 20-year period.

Ross’s “Planting Seeds” comments come just four days after a dairy industry lawsuit was filed against CDFA. Plaintiffs -- Milk Producers Council, Dairy Farmers of America, Security Milk Producers Association and California Dairy Campaign -- allege that CDFA failed to follow the law in refusing to bring California’s Class 4b price into better alignment with the prices being paid by cheese manufacturers around the country.
 

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