After an arduous journey, the Golden State’s dairy farmers will have their chance to cast a ballot on establishing a Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) in California. The vote will be held from April 2, 2018, through May 5, 2018.

If a favorable vote takes place, California would become the nation’s eleventh FMMO. In order for that to happen, two-thirds of the voting producers holding permits to sell milk would have to vote in favor of USDA’s final decision. Alternatively, dairy farmers who produce two-thirds of the state’s milk could also enact the ballot measure. It’s an up or down vote as no changes can be made to USDA’s final decision on a California federal order.

If approved, one unique provision would be that California could retain its in-state producer quota. That quota, worth an estimated $1 billion, would still be administered by the California Department of Agriculture. That’s a substantial provision in potentially securing a favorable vote in a state that produces 18 percent of the nation’s milk supply.

There will be a public meeting at 9 a.m. on Tuesday April 10, 2018, in Clovis, Calif., for those who want to learn more about USDA’s final decision on a California federal order.

To read the final decision published in the April 2, 2018, Federal Register, download “Milk in California: Establishment of Federal Milk Marketing Order.”

A three-plus-year journey
We said “arduous” at the start of this article because the road to a potential California federal order was first outlined in early 2015. That initial timeline that included a 10-step process for the potential federal order predicted a vote on the order by the spring or summer of 2017.

There were delays at a number of checkpoints. Perhaps the longest involved navigating an administrative law judge’s role in the federal order hearing process. After having a judicial officer reread the testimony and all related exhibits, USDA proceeded with a “ratification option” that allowed the federal order process to move ahead.

In the end, the road to a California order was allowed to proceed after that USDA judicial officer ratified the record with one small change. For more on the matter, read “Supreme court holds up California order.”

For an in-depth dive into all things related to the California Federal Milk Marketing Order process, check out USDA’s web portal, “Proposed Federal Milk Marketing Order for California.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2018
April 2, 2018
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