USDA publishes Federal Milk Marketing Order rules for California

California dairies have from April 2-May 5 to accept or reject proposed FMMO.

California dairy cows
(USDA, NRCS photo)

WASHINGTON — California is one step closer to being incorporated into the Federal Milk Marketing Order system. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published the new rule in the Federal Register March 30, and California dairies will have from April 2 to May 5 to determine whether they support the proposed FMMO.

The order would become effective if approved by two-thirds of the voting producers, or by producers of two-thirds of the milk represented in the voting process. USDA will mail ballot materials to all known eligible dairy producers.

California milk

California to consider joining the Federal Milk Marketing Order

California represents over 18 percent of all U.S. milk production and is currently regulated by a state milk marketing order administered by California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

Historically, California has not been a part of the FMMO because of its isolated geography — milk was not crossing state lines when FMMOs were established. So, California developed a state order.

Along with the state order, California also has a quota system that farmers can buy into, which gives those farmers a little more money for their milk. Congress agreed to recognize the quota system along with the new order.

Last summer, California milk producers came up with a revised Quota Implementation Plan that will work with the federal order program. Milk producers voted overwhelmingly to pass the quota.

Federal Milk Marketing Orders

FMMOs were established to set a minimum milk price dairy farmers are required to receive from milk processors in a milk marketing area.

Related: What is the Federal Milk Marketing Order?

Where appropriate, the proposed California FMMO adopts the uniform order provisions contained in the 10 current FMMOs in the national system. These uniform provisions include, but are not limited to, dairy product classification, end-product price formulas, and the producer-handler definition.

The proposed order would recognize the unique market structure of the California dairy industry through tailored, performance-based standards to determine eligibility for pool participation.

Public meeting

USDA will hold a public meeting beginning April 10, at 9 a.m., in Clovis, California, to answer questions related to how the proposed California FMMO would operate and how eligible dairy producers can participate in the referendum. Interested parties will have the opportunity to attend in person or watch the meeting live via webcast.

Meeting details, as well as information regarding the producer referendum, are available on the AMS website.

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