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July 24, 2015
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vegetables on Stahlbush Island.
How do you determine what to
CORVALLIS, Ore. —
A: We listen to literally
Growing up on an Eastern Or-
thousands and thousands of
egon farm, Karla Chambers, a
customers at food shows in an
former director on the Federal
effort to stay in concert with
Reserve Bank of San Francis-
co, saw what it was like to work Karla Chambers
Q: What are you seeing in
hard and have little, in the form
terms of consumer trends in
of economic gain, to show for
I also remember thinking as coming years?
a kid that this looked like a lot
A: The consumer is chang-
That experience, coupled of work, but I never remember ing at a remarkable pace of eat-
with her university studies in seeing the marketing side. You ing healthier; eating more fruits
economics and her experience sell these semi loads of wheat, and vegetables; more beans and
as co-owner and vice president but you have no idea where this legumes. Non GMO is very
of Stahlbush Island Farms, a pricing came from. I decided I important to the consumer to-
successful, vertically integrated wanted to know the business day. Gluten free is something
operation, provides her with a side better.
we hear a lot of at these food
unique perspective on the his-
Q: On Stahlbush Island shows.
tory and future of agriculture.
Farms you and your husband,
I would say we are going
Chambers shared that per- Bill, obviously have built a to look back at this period of
spective in a recent interview. very successful agricultural time and see that the consumer
Her answers have been edited business. How did this opera- has driven a remarkable revo-
lutionary change to our food
Question: How did your
A: Bill and I knew very ear- markets.
upbringing shape where you ly on that we needed to collapse
Twenty years ago, when
all the operations — the farm- ZH ZHUH JRLQJ WR WKH ¿UVW RU-
Answer: I grew up on a ing, processing and marketing ganic food shows, there were
farm that has been in my family ²WREULQJPRUHRIRXUSUR¿WV 3,500 people there. Today there
IRU\HDUV)RUWKH¿UVWWKUHH back to the farm and the land. are 70,000 and 80,000 people
generations, we were probably We didn’t know how we were there. And it is a $35 billion and
FUHDWLQJSUR¿WVWRZKHUH\RXQJ going to do that, but that was a growing industry. That is not
people wanted to come back very early goal of the farm.
a niche. That is a fundamental
to the farm. But I think the last
We also felt that we wanted shift in the demand curve for
two generations, most young to create a working environ- organic and natural foods.
farm kids didn’t want to come ment that would attract talent
Keeping up with that shift,
back to the farm. And I was one and young people and bring keeping up with that demand,
great young minds back into is vital to staying current and
Growing up it looked to these farming operations, and economically relevant in an
me like we worked remark- it strikes me that the only way industry that is continually
ably hard, and that some- you do that is through opportu- evolving.
body, somewhere — probably nity.
And part of that is bringing
somewhere in Chicago — was
One of the absolutely cool- talent back into agriculture.
setting the price of soft white est things for Bill and me is to We’ve lost two generations of
wheat or the price of cattle, have a daughter and son who young people with that farm
and we had very little control have chosen to go back into the management experience. We
of that. We did all the work, farming operation.
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but we had little control of the
Q: You grow and process a willing to relearn that and help
pricing of our products.
diversity of organic fruits and rebuild those skills.
By MITCH LIES
For the Capital Press
CDFA raises its cap on whey value
than the $4 proposed for a
two-year period by producers
California Ag Secretary and more than the $1.25 pro-
Karen Ross has raised the value posed for a six-month period
of whey in the pricing formula by processors.
for Class 4b milk headed for
It is also higher than the
cheese vats from $0.75 per hun- $1.55 cap recommended by the
dredweight of milk to $2.005 hearing panel for a one-year
The increase will be in place
The increase to the cap isn’t
for a year, from Aug. 1 through the biggest focal point of the de-
July 31, 2016. Had it been in cisions, said Rob Vandenheuvel,
place from April 2010 to March manager of the Milk Produc-
2015, it would have resulted in ers Council, which joined with
D¿YH\HDUPRQWKO\LQFUHDVHRI California Dairy Campaign and
$1.01 to the 4b price and $0.46 Western United Dairymen to
to the pool price, according to propose the $4 cap.
California Department of Food
The decision recognizes a
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Producers have been push- the 4b price is not in alignment
ing for a substantial change in with Class III, he said.
the whey valuation for some
A monthly Class 4b price
time, saying the 4b price lags $2 to $2.50 below Class III has
the price of Class III milk in been commonplace, with the
federal milk marketing orders. average from 2010 to June of
They are also supporting the this year trailing $1.81 for a to-
establishment of a federal or- tal of $1.83 billion, he said.
der for California to replace the
If the change had been in
place in June, it would have in-
Ross’ July 17 decision fol- creased the 4b price $0.69 per
lows a June 3 hearing on the hundredweight and narrowed
matter stemming from her the 4b/Class III gap to $0.48,
concern that current conditions he said.
might warrant pricing adjust-
While the increase is tempo-
rary, it will provide much need-
The temporary cap is less ed relief for dairy farmers.
Q&A: Outlook for farming is changing
By CAROL RYAN DUMAS
In addition to raising the
cap, Ross proportionally in-
creased each bracket within
the sliding scale for whey val-
ue, he said.
“Today’s decision recogniz-
es the fact we need to be closer
in line with federal orders, but
it’s only a short-term increase,”
said Lynne McBride, executive
director of California Dairy
Producers welcome the in-
crease, but it is long overdue
and unfortunately comes too
late for many dairy farmers,
The income that was lost
due to the huge discrepancy in
prices drove dairy farmers out
of business and together with
the unprecedented drought
is causing some to wonder if
they have a future in Califor-
nia, she said.
Those losses were cumu-
lative and the substantial un-
derpayment has put dairy pro-
ducers in jeopardy, she said.
Dairy farmers delivered
the message time after time
in hearings since 2010 and
were never heard. They are
encouraged that Ross finally
recognizes the huge dispari-
ty, she said.
Retail companies expand
dairy antitrust litigation
By MATEUSZ PERKOWSKI
Two retail companies are
accusing a national dairy orga-
nization of manipulating milk
prices, opening a new front in
litigation over a herd retire-
Piggly Wiggly Midwest,
a grocery chain, and Kinney
Drugs, a pharmacy chain, have
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against the National Milk Pro-
ducers Federation and associ-
ated dairy cooperatives.
The lawsuit claims that
NMPF’s “Cooperatives Work-
ing Together” program repeat-
edly paid farmers to send their
herds to slaughter between
2003 and 2010, thereby reduc-
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prices for dairy products.
The plaintiffs characterize
the program as an unlawfully
cy” and have requested class
action status that would allow
other direct dairy purchasers to
join in the lawsuit to seek com-
NMPF has been battling
similar allegations for the past
four years, but that class action
case was brought on behalf of
consumers rather than retailers.
Chris Galen, senior vice
president of communications
for NMPF, said the group
could not yet comment on the
“We just learned of this
litigation and we’re still con-
sulting with our attorneys,” he
According to NMPF, the
herd retirements were protect-
ed by the Capper-Volstead Act,
which provides farm cooper-
Mateusz Perkowski/Capital Press
atives with some exemptions
from antitrust liability.
Since the original antitrust
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NMPF has continued defend-
ing the program despite suf-
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The organization asked
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey
White to dismiss the case on
the grounds that USDA and
not the federal court has juris-
diction over the controversy.
In 2012, White rejected that
argument as well as the claim
that plaintiffs were barred
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statute of limitations.
Last year, the judge dealt
NMPF another blow by certi-
fying the consumer case as a
class action — a step that often
exposes defendants to greater
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ates pressure to settle.
A jury trial in the consumer
case is scheduled for February
It’s likely that NMPF will
again ask the judge to throw
out the case before it goes to
trial, based on the theory the
cooperatives are protected by
Capper-Volstead, said Peter
Carstensen, a law professor
specializing in agricultural an-
titrust at the University of Wis-
consin Law School.
If the judge agrees that
NMPF is shielded by that law,
it would effectively end the
case and foreclose the plain-
suit, he said.
“You won’t be able to come
back and have another crack at
it,” Carstensen said.
As for the new retailer law-
suit, it could be an attempt by
other attorneys to join the dis-
pute in the hope of eventually
winning a share of the fees, he
The latest complaint could
also be strategically aimed at
expanding the class of plain-
tiffs, Carstensen said. “It’s
possible this is a way of add-
ing another component to the
Aside from milk, similar
lawsuits have targeted vol-
ume-control systems for pota-
toes, eggs and mushrooms in
recent years, he said.
Given the legal uncertain-
ty about such programs and
their vulnerability to litigation,
other farm sectors will likely
think twice about trying to lim-
it production, Carstensen said.
“My advice would be, ‘Don’t