Rep. Costa Welcomes New Era for California Dairy
Fresno, CA – The federal milk marketing order takes effect in California today, marking the culmination of years of work and the beginning of a new era for California dairy.
In 2013, Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) introduced the California Federal Milk Marketing Order Act with Central Valley colleague Congressman David Valadao (CA-21) and other Valley members of the House of Representatives. Enacted as part of the 2014 Farm Bill, their legislation set in motion the process by which California dairy producers petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture to enter into a new price setting structure to increase the competitiveness of California producers.
“When our dairy producers came to me about wanting a federal milk marketing order in California, I reached across the aisle to my Valley colleagues, introduced a measure, and worked for its bipartisan enactment in the last Farm Bill,” said Rep. Costa. “I look forward to seeing the positive effects this will have for our dairy farmers and our entire Valley community.”
This could bring widespread benefits to regions rich with dairy farms, such as Merced County, where dairy producers are responsible for nearly a third of the county’s $3.1 billion total agriculture value. By allowing California producers to be more competitive with producers from other states, the federal milk marketing order (FMMO) is expected to increase the amount dairy farmers get for their milk. This should help prevent the ongoing slide of the dairy industry in many California communities, which will protect jobs and strengthen local economies.
Before the federal milk marketing order, California’s milk price regulation program was run by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. However, dairy farmers in California are competing with producers across the nation who operate under the federal program. According to Geoff Vanden Heuvel, Director of Regulatory and Economic Affairs for the Milk Producers Council, this is a primary reason California producers voted to adopt the FMMO.
“Producers in California were being regulated by different rules than our competition,” explained Vanden Heuvel. “By opting for the federal milk marketing order, we chose to level the playing field with our competition. This should hopefully allow our dairy farmers to get paid more for their milk.”