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California Dairy Farmers to Protest at State Capitol on Thursday

October 15, 2012
By: Catherine Merlo, Dairy Today Western and Online Editor google + 
Calif dairy rally
California dairy farmers protest at the state capitol last month.  

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Organizers say California’s dairy producers “need an immediate price adjustment to avert what has become an industry-wide catastrophe.”

Hundreds of California dairy producers are expected to rally at the State Capitol Building in Sacramento Thursday to urge state officials to approve emergency price relief for the state’s struggling dairy farmers.

The “Rally for California Dairy Relief” will take place at 11 a.m., Oct. 18.

Organizers say California’s dairy producers “need an immediate price adjustment to avert what has become an industry-wide catastrophe.”

They note that Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) “has not made the legally required adjustment to the price of milk being paid to California dairy farmers by California dairy processors. This inaction is at the expense and future of an industry that annually creates in excess of 350,000 jobs and generates in excess of $60 billion in industry-wide activity.”

It will be the second producer rally since a price ruling by Ross disappointed the state’s dairy producers in late July. Following a two-day hearing, Ross overruled a state panel’s recommendation by raising the whey-factor cap in the Class 4b pricing formula. But dairy producers say the increase is insubstantial and fell far short of what was requested.

California’s dairy producers contend they are losing hundreds of millions of dollars each year because the whey factor in the state’s milk pricing system is undervalued compared to Federal Order levels. They want CDFA to replace the 4b formula with one that more closely tracked the market direction of Federal Orders’ Class III whey value.

California’s 4b price is what handlers pay for farm milk for cheese and whey production. The CDFA Secretary sets minimum prices for the state’s five classes of milk.

Ross has created the California Dairy Future Task Force to help develop recommendations for structural change in the state’s dairy pricing formula and other milk marketing regulations.

But producers, hit hard by soaring feed costs, bankruptcies and foreclosures, say they need immediate action. “California dairy and support industries are at a financial breaking point,” organizers say.

For more information on the rally, click here.

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