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California dairy producers argue for federal pricing
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The California Dairy Campaign’s request to raise cheese milk prices and whey factor values was denied Tuesday by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which opted instead to grant an extension on the temporary price relief.


CDFA Secretary Karen Ross said the department would extend the 12.5 cents per hundredweight price relief through June 30, 2014. This increase did not meet the amount dairy organizations requested during the Sept. 12 hearing.


At the hearing CDC Executive Director Lynne McBride testified along with other CDC members requesting that 4b, or cheese milk, prices be raised to be closer to prices paid in other states. 


The CDC, California Dairies Inc., Milk Producers Council, and Western United Dairymen requested an increase of 46 cents per hundredweight for the 4b prices and an increase in the whey factor value price of 25 cents bringing it to $1.00 per cwt. 


CDC President Joe Augusto said that the decision proves that the milk pricing system in California is not equitable to the dairy producers. He said that the only way to restore equity to California milk pricing is to join the federal milk marketing order system.


Milk marketing programs aim to ensure stability. Unlike other states, California does not fall under the jurisdiction of the federal milk marketing order system. The CDFA has maintained the state’s own milk marketing order since 1935.


California dairy producer prices have been $1.05 per cwt lower on average than prices paid in the federal order system.  This has caused the average sized dairy in California to be paid about $600,000 less than a similar sized dairy in the federal order since January 2011. 


McBride said that the results of the CDFA hearing show that the gap between California prices and federal order prices are not fair to producers in the state. 


“The only viable way to bring our state dairy producer prices in line with prices paid across the country is by joining the federal milk marketing order system,” McBride said.