CDFA denies petition seeking emergency hearing, milk price hike

The California State Department of Food and Agriculture denied a petition Friday, from two large dairy industry groups to have a public hearing on raising prices for all regulated classes of milk.

The petition was filed with the State Department of Food and Ag two weeks ago. They're the agency that has long been tasked with setting the minimum price processors pay producers for milk.

The request, drafted by the heads of Western United Dairymen and California Dairy Campaign, called for a hearing to consider temporarily increasing prices for all classes of milk, or 35-cents per hundredweight to the over base price.

Tulare County dairyman, Joey Airoso says that's an overall small percentage, but even before the state made a decision on a hearing to discuss it, he had his doubts.

Even though milk remains the most valuable commodity in Tulare and Kings Counties, Airoso says many dairy farmers are calling it quits. The petition echoes that concern, pointing to lower and lower prices compared to an even higher cost of production.

"And really what we really want is to get our price closer to the Midwest, it really gives us the ability to compete cause we're all competing against each other and we do business in a state that everybody knows is not really business friendly."

In its written response and denial, a state official said in part quote: "The department is acutely aware of the impact to dairy families of stained low milk prices caused by global milk production and ample dairy product supplies that are outpacing global market demand. The entire California dairy sector is currently facing financial stress."

The state also explains it would be inappropriate to hold a hearing, while a federal milk marketing order for California is pending.
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