California milk cap.
February 17, 2020

California Dairy Quota Intrigue Continues

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

Karen Ross, California’s Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary, rejected a proposal to start a 5-year phase-out of the state’s dairy quota program. But that's hardly the end of the story.

United Dairy Families of California (UDFC) had submitted a proposal February 11 to Ross to equalize quota premiums at $1.43/cwt and then begin a 5-year phase out of the program by March 1, 2025. On February 14, Ross rejected the UDFC proposal, saying “it was not submitted pursuant to the formalized procedures for submitting a petition to amend the Quota Implementation Plan.”

The problem was that the proposal was not submitted as a petition with at least 25% of California dairy producers signing on to it.

StopQIP, an anti-quota group made up of dairy farmers who hold no quota, had submitted a petition January 29 which in effect would terminate the program. Observers say it’s likely StopQIP has collected enough valid signatures to force a hearing on the issue.

With such a hearing likely, UDFC had hoped CDFA would simply include its proposal to phase out the program in that hearing. UDFC had already planned a series of informational producer meetings beginning Feb. 18 and running through February 28. The group will now collect signatures at those meetings to reach the 25% threshold of about 250 producers needed to submit a petition to CDFA.

Note: To ultimately amend or terminate QIP, a two-thirds majority is required.

Keep in mind, too, that the StopQIP group has filed a lawsuit alleging CDFA did not follow rule making procedures when it originally adopted QIP. While California’s Attorney General has rejected that allegation, a state court will begin hearing that case May 15.

To read more on the proposal to phase out the California quota, click here.