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California Milk Producers’ Group Hires Lobbying Firm to Push for Legislative Change to Help Dairies

February 11, 2013
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Leaders say state’s ag department has not done enough to implement a fair minimum pricing structure for dairies.

Source: Milk Producers Council

Saying that California’s dairy families can no longer live under the status quo, the board of directors of the Milk Producers Council (MPC) last week voted to team up with a prominent Sacramento legal/lobbying firm, Nielsen Merksamer in an effort to strengthen dairy farmers’ position in the state Capitol.

"The financial struggles faced by California’s roughly 1,600 dairy families are well-documented," says Rob Vandenheuvel, MPC’s general manager. "Over the past five years, the prices paid for California-produced milk has, more often than not, failed to cover the cost of producing that milk, resulting in massive amounts of debt being accumulated by the state’s dairy families. While the general dairy markets have impacted our industry throughout the country, California’s dairies have been especially devastated by the refusal of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to implement a fair minimum pricing structure."

CDFA has chosen "to artificially discount" California’s Class 4b price below the comparable Federal Order Class III price "to the tune of $745 million" since 2010, Vandenheuvel says.

California’s Class 4b price is the minimum price for milk sold to California cheese manufacturers. The Federal Order Class III price is the minimum price for milk sold to regulated cheese manufacturers around the country.

"Despite several administrative hearings aimed at fixing this obvious problem, it has become clear that CDFA is not willing to make the changes dairy farmers desperately need," adds Vandenheuvel. "MPC and our fellow dairy producer organizations/cooperatives will be looking to our elected officials in Sacramento to make the changes we need for an economically sustainable dairy industry, and our new relationship with Nielsen Merksamer will give MPC and our producers a strong, new ally in that effort."

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