Recognizing that California's dairy families can no longer live under the status quo, this week, Milk Producers Council's Board of Directors voted to team up with a prominent Sacramento legal/lobbying firm, Nielsen Merksamer (http://web.nmgovlaw.com/) in an effort to strengthen dairy farmers' position in our State Capitol.
The financial struggles faced by California's roughly 1,600 dairy families are well-documented. Over the past five years, the prices paid for California-produced milk has more-often-then-not failed to cover the cost of producing that milk, resulting in massive amounts of debt being accumulated by the State's dairy families. While the general dairy markets have impacted our industry throughout the country, California's dairies have been especially devastated by the refusal of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to implement a fair minimum pricing structure. For example, as MPC noted in last week's newsletter, CDFA has seen fit to artificially discount our Class 4b price (the minimum price for milk sold to California cheese manufacturers) below the comparable Federal Order Class III price (the minimum price for milk sold to regulated cheese manufacturers around the country) to the tune of $745,000,000 since 2010.
Despite several administrative hearings aimed at fixing this obvious problem, it has become clear that CDFA is not willing to make the changes dairy farmers desperately need. MPC and our fellow dairy producer organizations/cooperatives will be looking to our elected officials in Sacramento to make the changes we need for an economically sustainable dairy industry, and our new relationship with Nielsen Merksamer will give MPC and our producers a strong, new ally in that effort.