Ag Today April 2, 2018

USDA AGREES TO TAKE OVER CALIFORNIA MILK PRICING

Published On March 30, 2018 – 1:08 PM
Written By David Castellon, The Business Journal

After years of trying to get California’s milk-price structure changed, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has decided to let the dairies in the state be part of the federal system.

The USDA published today in the Federal Register its final decision to establish a Federal Milk Marketing Order for California.

That decision is part of a 12-step process to get California on the federal pricing order.

“This is the 11th step,” said Lynne McBride, executive director of the California Dairy Campaign, a Turlock-based nonprofit representing dairy operators and one of the groups that has spent years working to initiate the change, as dairy operators are frustrated with the current system of prices they’re paid for their milk being set monthly by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

For about the past five years, the nation’s dairy industry has been hit hard by low prices, often less than it costs them to produce it. But dairy operators in California note that the prices set by the CDFA are consistently lower than those set in other states under federal milk marketing orders.

In fact, McBride said California dairies are paid some of the lowest prices for their milk among all the milk-producing states in the country.

She said the USDA’s decision is good news for dairies in that it would prioritize the needs of dairy operators and incorporate a quota system comparable to what’s used in California’s milk-pricing system that lets some dairies get more for their milk.

McBride said U.S. Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) — a dairyman by trade — worked to get a provision in the Farm Bill to allow California’s quota system to continue if the state falls under the Federal Milk Marketing Order.

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