CDC: Petition will help, but California FMMO order needed

Despite joining other California producer organizations to petition for higher state milk prices, the head of the California Dairy Campaign (CDC) said a new California federal order remains the likely route to price equality with the rest of the country.

CDC joined the Milk Producers Council, Western United Dairymen and California Dairies, Inc., in filing the petition with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). The petition calls for a hearing to increase the price paid for 4b or cheese milk by 46¢/cwt., and raise the factor used to determine what dairy producers are paid for whey, from the current 75¢/cwt., up to $1.00/cwt. The petition is posted on CDFA’s website.

“At every opportunity we will continue to petition CDFA for producer price increases because dairy producer prices in our state are the lowest of any regulated region in the country,” said CDC president Joe Augusto. According to CDFA data, 105 dairies went out of business in 2012 and, in the last five years, nearly 400 dairies have exited. 

“The increase called for in the petition is a fraction of what dairy farmers deserve given the profitability in the market,” he added. “We will support all statewide efforts to increase dairy producer prices, but it is clear that the only way to bring our prices in alignment with prices paid in other states is by joining the federal milk marketing order system,” he concluded. 

“In June of 2013 the gap between our California cheese milk price and the equivalent federal order cheese milk price amounted to $2.11/cwt.,” said CDC executive director Lynne McBride. “Since January 2012 dairy producers around the state have lost on average more than $2.00/cwt. Had California dairy producer prices been in alignment with federal order prices, the losses would have been far less great,” she concluded.