|Federal Orders session termed successful|
The informational meeting on Federal Milk Marketing Orders (FMMO) hosted by Western United Dairymen turned out to be very informational and well attended. Approximately 200 attendees gathered Thursday in Tulare to hear from Bill Wise, Market Administrator of the Arizona and Pacific Northwest orders. In his presentation, Wise highlighted the major components of Federal Orders. He outlined what Orders can and can’t do, the hearing process, the rules of pooling and de-pooling. Following his presentation, a panel of experts asked questions to clarify or expand on some of Wise’s statement. He specified that Federal Orders are focused on serving the Class I markets – not on pooling all the milk. This is an important difference with the California system. As it turns out, the California system and Federal Orders are quite different; the differences don’t stop at the value of whey in cheese.
With all the intricacies of Federal Orders, the result of the meeting was close to a technical information overload. “But the details presented were very important”, said Tom Barcellos, WUD’s President. “Our objective was to present the information in a factual and neutral manner so dairymen can have facts on what Federal Orders are”. While many would have liked more precise answers from Wise on what a Federal Order would exactly mean in California, the fact that some questions cannot be answered at this point is a very important fact to consider in itself. For example, while it may be possible to go to the Congress to allow quota to remain in place, current language does not permit quota in Federal Orders. Wise also refrained from speculating on how many cheese plants would choose to de-pool if California were to vote in a Federal Order. “This was a great first step in exploring Federal Orders”, said Barcellos. “With all the uncertainty remaining around what it would mean for California, there’s still a lot of research to be done” he added. Nonetheless, attendees went home with a lot to think about. The current tough financial times dairymen are facing is a priority for WUD’s board members and they will keep that in mind as they look at options to improve the economic picture in the state.