WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2015 – California’s three largest dairy cooperatives are asking USDA to allow milk producers in the state to begin operating under a Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO), which provides dairy prices for milk based on market prices.

The three co-ops -- California Dairies Inc., Dairy Farmers of America Inc. and Land O’Lakes Inc. – say shifting to an FMMO for California reflects the desire of their members to receive more equitable, market-based milk prices. Under existing regulations, California dairy farmers operate under statewide milk pricing plans.

The three California co-ops, which submitted their proposal to USDA this week, said changes made to the state order before 2011 resulted in California’s dairy farm families “enduring unsustainable pricing for their milk.” Since then they said leaders from the three co-ops have been advocating for an FMMO to work with the California Department of Food and Agriculture to correct pricing disparity.

As a first step in the process, the co-ops are asking USDA to hold a regulatory hearing that will allow other dairy industry organizations, companies and producers to provide input. USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service says on its website that the department will decide on whether a hearing will be held after conducting an internal analysis of the proposal.

AMS said USDA is also requesting additional proposals regarding the issue and that those proposals must be received by April 10. The department also plans to conduct a series of public outreach meetings throughout California in early May. Information regarding these meetings will be released soon.


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