California dairy groups filed a petition with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) asking for an emergency hearing regarding prices. The petition was filed by Western United Dairymen and The California Dairy Campaign.
“This petition basically is requesting a temporary price increase for dairy producers in California,” said WUD Director of Economic Analysis Annie AcMoody, “the increase would be for a period of 12 months and it would give producers approximately 35 cents per hundredweight of milk produced.”
The California dairy industry has been struggling in recent years, evidenced by several operations going out of business. “Producers are losing money for each hundredweight of milk they produce and so we’re trying to find a way to at least help them out a little bit,” said AcMoody.
CDFA Secretary Karen Ross has until Friday, February 2 to announce her decision regarding the petition. AcMoody said that while a positive decision would certainly welcome, it could still be another three to four months before dairy producers would experience the benefits a price change. “The first quarter of 2018 might prove fateful for dairy producers in the state,” AcMoody noted.
There is a precedent for emergency price increases, but nothing is guaranteed. In 2009, Secretary Kawamura issued a price increase for three months. Secretary Ross has also granted temporary price increases in the past. A four-month increase was granted in 2012 and a six-month increase was granted in 2013.
While dairymen await a decision on the emergency hearing, there is a small glimmer of optimism for the dairy industry this year. “The current forecast is pointing to some potential improvement by the end of 2018, but I don’t think enough to turn things around, where you know, everybody would be profitable again,” said AcMoody.
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