CDC: CDFA decision fails dairy producers

The hearing decision announced by California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Secretary Karen Ross last Friday fails dairy producers, according to California Dairy Campaign (CDC) President Joe Augusto. The decision amounts to a small fraction of what dairy producers called for, and does not come close to the amount that would close the gap between California prices and those paid in the federal order system, he said.

“(The) decision makes it clear that the only way California dairy producers will be paid a price that is reasonable compared to producer prices paid in other states is by joining the federal milk marketing order system,” he stated. “Once again, CDFA has failed to respond to the plight of dairy producers around the state who continue to exit at an alarming rate largely due to the fact that our state fails to pay producers a price that is equitable,” he stated.

CDC joined a coalition of dairy producer organizations and cooperatives including California Dairies, Inc., the Dairy Farmers of America – Western Area Council, Land O’Lakes, Inc., Milk Producers Council, and Western United Dairymen to call on CDFA to increase the 4b or cheese milk price by $1.20 per cwt. CDC considered it a compromise position amounting to just 80 percent of the whey value paid in the federal order system.

“Despite the unity among dairy producers and cooperatives CDFA failed to restore equity to our state dairy pricing system,” explained CDC Executive Director Lynne McBride. “The department chose to adopt a minimal increase amounting to just 12.5 cents per hundredweight which is half the amount that processors like Kraft and Leprino had supported during the hearing,” she stated. “This is the first time in recent memory that CDFA has adopted a producer price increase that is less than the amount that large private processors considered fair.”

“It is apparent from this decision and the lack of responsiveness by CDFA to the concerns raised by dairy producers and state lawmakers about the dire consequences of the failure of our state pricing system to pay a fair price to producers, that the only viable path forward is for California to join the federal milk marketing order system,” she concluded.

The California Dairy Campaign (CDC) is a grassroots organization of dairy farmers who are working to encourage lawmakers and the dairy industry to be more responsive to the needs of the family dairy farm in California. The CDC is a member organization of the California Farmers Union (CFU), which represents more than 1300 family farmers and ranchers of all commodities throughout California. CFU is the state chapter of National Farmers Union, which represents more than 250,000 farmers nationwide.