Tim Hearden/Capital Press File
The California Department of Food and Agriculture has extended to Dec. 22 the deadline for the state’s dairy farmers to vote on the referendum for the Quota Implementation Program. The original deadline was Dec. 4.
In a notice to industry, the department stated the extension is to give producers an adequate opportunity to vote and is due to the disruption caused by recent wildfires.
The department earlier mailed 1,054 ballots and had received 400 as of earlier this week.
If approved, the QIP would continue the long-standing program that pays quota holders $1.70 per hundredweight of milk above the state blend price. It has operated within the state’s milk marketing order since the order was established in the late 1960s.
The state’s producers are seeking to join the federal marketing order system, which does not include quota programs. They have been adamant that quota value must be maintained if they join the federal system.
A provision in the last farm bill and USDA will allow the state to administer a stand-alone program. A producer review developed the program this summer, and it was finalized by CDFA in September and put to a referendum.
If approved by dairy farmers, the stand-alone program would only go into effect if producers also vote to join the federal order system.
The quota program came about as a means of compensating milk producers selling into the higher Class I market and gain their support for establishing a state marketing order, which would pool milk and distribute payments more evenly to producers of milk across all utilizations.
Quota certificates are worth $1.2 billion today and are considered an asset that can be transferred or sold.
The producer-developed stand-alone program would assess all Grade A milk in the state at no more than $0.38 per hundredweight to generate about $12 million a month needed to fund the quota.
The first requirement if QIP is to pass is that at least 51 percent of eligible producers must vote. The 400 ballots received by CDFA only constitute 38 percent.
Beyond that, votes in favor must be submitted by at least 65 percent of those who voted and produce at least 51 percent of the milk (by those who voted) or 51 percent of those who voted and produce at least 65 percent of the milk produced (by those who voted).
Ballots must be filled out completely and postmarked no later than Dec. 22 using the business reply envelope provided with the ballot or physically received at the department’s headquarters in Sacramento.