The California Department of Food and Agriculture has denied a request for a hearing to temporarily raise milk prices, citing the pending federal milk marketing order for California.
In a letter to petitioners, the department said “it is inappropriate to hold a hearing while California dairy producers are exercising self-determination with regards to implementing a Federal Milk Marketing Order in California.”
Western United Dairymen and California Milk Campaign filed the petition on Jan. 18, proposing increases to all classes of milk for a period of 12 months. Those increases would raise the blend price to producers by 35 cents per hundredweight.
The groups pointed out the severe economic hardship dairy producers are facing and have faced for the past three years. They also noted that if approved by producers, implementation of a federal milk marketing order could be a year away.
USDA has not yet released its final decision on how a federal order would operate in California, which would be followed by a producer referendum on joining the federal system.
In its letter, CDFA said it is acutely aware of the impact to dairy families of sustained low milk prices and is also aware that processors are also under financial pressure.
“The entire California dairy sector is currently facing financial stress,” the department stated.
The December blend price for milk was $13.73, while average cost of production was $17.78 in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to the latest CDFA reports.
WUD and CDC have not yet replied to requests for comment by Capital Press on Monday morning.