California Ag Committee Punts on Milk Pricing Bill

May 6, 2013 05:58 AM

The onus is put back on dairy farmers and processors.

California dairy farmers received some good news and some bad news from their state Assembly Ag committee last week, says Rob Vandenheuvel, general manager of the California Milk Producers Council.

The Ag Committee unanimously passed AB 31, which deals with the state’s milk pricing regulation (good news). But it stripped out any language requiring California’s Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to align the state’s regulated cheese price with Federal Milk Market Order prices.

Instead, the Ag Committee included a list of "Legislative Intent" language, which would give CDFA "temporary authority" to consider emergency price adjustments.

The language also states it’s the intent of the Assembly to "address establishing a dry whey value factor in the computation of the value of 4b market milk and a dry whey credit for processors."

In essence, the Assembly asked the state’s Dairy Future Task Force to come up with recommendations. In other words, it placed the onus back on the industry—producers and processors—to solve the problem.

Western United Dairymen CEO Michael Marsh was generally upbeat after the hearing, expressing hope that the bill will bring processors to the table.

"What this is going to do is allow the bill to move," he says. "The challenge is the cheese processors have refused to negotiate with us for over 10 years, despite our repeated attempts to dialogue. The cheesemakers have to negotiate with us in good faith; hopefully they heard the Chair’s direction loud and clear." 

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Spell Check

5/7/2013 10:25 AM

  That is an outright lie Mr. Marsh! We are and have been at the table ready to negotiate in good faith for solution that works for all parties invovled. - The Processors


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