Representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted a public meeting Tuesday, in Clovis, California, regarding the proposed California Federal Milk Marketing Order (CA FMMO). The purpose of the meeting was to explain how the CA FMMO would operate and provide affected producers with the opportunity to ask questions of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service staff before the producers vote to adopt or reject the proposed FMMO.
Much of the information presented at Tuesday’s meeting is available on the USDA website. The USDA representatives noted that producers who marketed their milk within the proposed FMMO marketing area in May 2017 are eligible to vote, either as qualified independent producers or through their qualified cooperatives. They also reminded meeting attendees that there are two ways for the referendum to pass: by affirmative vote of either (1) two-thirds of all the voting producers (including bloc-voted cooperatives), or (2) eligible producers supplying two-thirds of all milk in the system.
Ballots must be postmarked by May 5, and USDA expects to publish the result of the vote in early June. USDA will only announce whether the referendum passed or failed; no details will be published regarding the actual vote for privacy-related reasons.
If the referendum passes, USDA will spend June, July and August educating handlers on the new process in order to ensure a seamless transition from the state order to the CA FMMO. The representatives noted specifically that, at the outset of a new order, the market administrator has the opportunity and discretion to look at historical market data to determine existing touch-base requirements.
USDA reiterated that if the referendum passes, the target date for implementation of the new order is November 1, 2018, and that the first pool results will be announced in December 2018. Should the referendum fail, however, USDA will terminate the proceedings with no further action.
Members with questions regarding this update may contact Dave Carlin, IDFA senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Donald Grady, IDFA manager of legislative affairs, at email@example.com.