This week, the United States Department of Agriculture released its schedule for the next steps in the federal hearing process to potentially establish a California Federal Milk Marketing Order.
Transcript corrections are due January 15; post hearing briefs are due March 31, and reply briefs are due May 16.
The agency estimates that about 8,000 pages of transcripts were created by the more than 90 individuals who testified. But that number does not include the 198 exhibits also entered into the hearing record, says William Francis, USDA’s Director of Order Formulation and Enforcement Division.
Once the reply briefs are submitted in mid-May, USDA will develop and issue a Recommended Decision based on the hearing evidence. Then, the public will have an opportunity to comment on that Recommended Decision.
After that, USDA will issue a Final Decision. If USDA recommends that a Federal Order be established in California, dairy farmers covered by the order will be given the opportunity to vote on it. Two thirds of dairy farmers or dairy farmers representing two thirds of the milk produced in that order area are needed to approve the order.
The entire process is expected to take another 18 months. So it could be early to mid 2017 before a decision is reached.
More information, and hearing transcripts, can be found here: http://www.ams.usda.gov/caorder