Home News Dairy Industry The Road to the California FMMO Reopens – Come Hear Details At WUD’s Convention!

The Road to the California FMMO Reopens – Come Hear Details At WUD’s Convention!

Modesto, Calif., (March 20, 2018) – Big news this week: the judicial officer who was tasked with reviewing the entire California Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) hearing record ratified it. This officially clears the way for USDA to release the final decision for a California FMMO. USDA did not mention how long it would take to release the final decision once the record has been ratified, but in theory, it could be any day now. After a disappointing delay, we are looking forward to the final decision. Making a choice to change or not to change a pricing system that has been in place for 50 years is not a decision many take lightly. To shed light on the implications, WUD will extensively discuss details of USDA’s decision at its annual Convention on March 28. More specifically, I will provide pricing and pooling scenarios and answer questions you may have. This is of course pending USDA’s decision. If for some reason it is further delayed, I will still provide information on the draft recommended decision. It is important to get information out, because once the final decision is released, the referendum process will start. That referendum period will only last between 30 and 45 days. This is a very short time frame to reach out to the producer community and explain all the details of this complex system.

As a reminder: the work of the judicial officer was required after a Supreme Court case called into question the appointments of administrative law judges (ALJ) in federal agencies. USDA announced last month the FMMO process for California could be significantly delayed until the court cases causing the delay were heard. This likely would have been around June. Hearing producers’ disappointment, USDA found a workaround and announced a solution during an industry conference call just weeks after the original delay announcement (appointing a judicial officer to review the FMMO hearing record). This officer is not subject to the appointment clause that applied to the ALJ that presided over the California FMMO hearing. Therefore, his review would prevent potential legal challenges down the road should the Supreme Court decide administrative law judges’ appointment was not constitutional.

By Annie AcMoody, director of economic analysis

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