Feb. 23 2015 08:04 AM

Assuming that things will go smoothly is assuming a lot.

Proposed language for California Milk Marketing Order

On the surface, California's February 4 request to the USDA to implement a statewide Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) looks like an easy slam-dunk:

Three co-ops that account for 75 percent of all milk in the state submitted the request, a two-thirds majority vote of producers is needed to approve a new order, and co-ops are allowed to cast block votes. If approved, California would become the largest FMMO in the country.

But in a state with such a long history of divided dairy opinions, strong personalities, and entangling politics, nothing should be taken for granted.

California covers over 155,000 square miles and makes almost 21 percent of all milk in the U.S. Total producer milk receipts in 2013 were $7.6 billion. All are reasons why differing opinions about something that may take two years of meetings, debate and fine-tuning before it is ever put to a vote could pop up.

One of those, perhaps in the form of an alternative proposal, may come from the Dairy Institute of California, a manufacturing trade association whose 25 member companies operate plants in California and account for approximately 75 percent of all fluid milk products, cultured and frozen products, and hard cheese produced in the state. The institute and state producer groups rarely agree on any pricing issue.

It is also predictable that producer opinions will differ geographically. Milk is made in 32 different California counties, but five account for 72 percent of it. Those same five are home to 65 percent of all dairies, too.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2015
February 23, 2015

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