The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published in the Federal Register a final decision to establish a Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) for California. The proposed FMMO would incorporate the entire state of California. The final decision is based on the evidentiary record of a public hearing held in Clovis, Calif., from September to November 2015. A recommended decision regarding the proposed program was published Feb. 14, 2017.
USDA will conduct a referendum among dairy producers to determine whether they support the proposed FMMO. The referendum will be held from April 2, 2018 through May 5, 2018. USDA will mail ballot materials to all known eligible dairy producers supplying milk to the proposed marketing area. The FMMO would become effective if approved by two-thirds of the voting producers, or by producers of two-thirds of the milk represented in the voting process.
FMMOs are legal instruments that regulate the sale of milk between dairy farmers and the first buyer. Where appropriate, the proposed California FMMO adopts the uniform order provisions contained in the 10 current FMMOs in the national system. These uniform provisions include, but are not limited to, dairy product classification, end-product price formulas, and the producer-handler definition. The proposed order would recognize the unique market structure of the California dairy industry through tailored, performance-based standards to determine eligibility for pool participation. The proposed order provides for the recognition of producer quota as administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).
California represents over 18 percent of all U.S. milk production and is currently regulated by a state milk marketing order administered by CDFA.
Along with issuing this final decision, USDA conducted a Regulatory Economic Impact Analysis to determine the potential impact of regulating California milk handlers under a FMMO on the milk supply, product demand and prices, and milk allocation in California and throughout the United States. The entire hearing record, including the Regulatory Economic Impact Analysis, is available here.
USDA will hold a public meeting beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 10, 2018, in Clovis, Calif., to answer questions related to how the proposed California FMMO would operate and how eligible dairy producers can participate in the referendum. Interested parties will have the opportunity to attend in person or watch the meeting live via webcast. Meeting details, as well as information regarding the producer referendum, are available on the AMS website.