14 CapitalPress.com September 11, 2015 Impacts of Calif. milk order proposals differ By CAROL RYAN DUMAS Capital Press California dairymen and their processors will be testi- fying in favor and against var- ious proposals when USDA officials roll into Clovis on Sept. 22 to launch a hearing on establishing a federal milk marketing order for the state. USDA Agricultural Mar- keting Service released an impact analysis of the four proposals in August. The pro- posal submitted by three dairy co-ops on behalf of dairy farmers and the proposal sub- mitted by Dairy Institute of California on behalf of pro- cessors address all segments of a marketing order. The proposal from Califor- nia Producer-Handler Associ- ation addresses quota exemp- tion, and the proposal from Ponderosa Dairy addresses out-of-state milk. The analysis looked at the economic impacts on the Cal- ifornia dairy industry but also looked at the broader impacts throughout the U.S. from 2017 through 2024. It found the co-op proposal would increase the California all-milk price, the state’s milk production and producer rev- enue, but it would also cause an increase in U.S. milk pro- duction and a decrease in the all-milk price and producer revenue in all 10 existing fed- eral orders. The Dairy Institute’s pro- posal would also increase California’s all-milk price, producer revenue and milk production but to a much less- er extent, and its effects on in- dividual federal orders across the U.S. were mixed. The other two proposals would result in impacts simi- lar to the co-op proposal. Comparing the impacts to California, annual milk pro- duction would increase an av- erage of 540 million pounds with the co-op plan and 60 million pounds with the Insti- tute plan. The all milk price would increase an average $1.03 per hundredweight with the co- op plan and 10 cents with the Institute plan, and annual pro- ducer revenue would increase $700 million with the co-op plan and $70 million with the Institute plan. The impetus in pursuing a federal order has been the siz- able disparity between Cali- fornia’s price for 4b milk used Tim Hearden/Capital Press Cows are milked at VanderWoude Dairy near Merced, Calif. The federal government is considering alternatives for a marketing order for Class 4b milk in California. An analysis of the four proposals shows each produces different results. ‘Part of the discussion is whether what happens in California stays in California. A rock this big would have an effect in other parts of the country.’ — Andrew Novakovic Cornell University, professor of ag economics to manufacture cheese and the federal order Class III price going to the same utilization. That difference has aver- aged $1.84 per hundredweight per month since 2010, totaling an estimated $1.83 billion, according to producer orga- nizations. The discrepancy is largely due to the difference in the value of dry whey in the respective formulas, and pro- ducers have been unable to gain any resolve of the issue from the California Depart- ment of Food and Agriculture. Prices Andrew Novakovic, profes- sor of ag economics at Cornell University, said producers want to join the federal order system because they think the state sys- tem doesn’t work and the Cali- fornia secretary of agriculture is no longer responsive. After a few years of trying hard to get a change, producers decided they needed to change the game and go to the federal system, he said. “But it’s no slam dunk; the train could still go off the track,” he said. After hearing testimony, USDA-AMS will draw up a proposal for producers to con- sider, which may or may not be to their liking. There’s a gigantic differ- ence between the impacts on California’s milk prices and production response under the co-op and Institute proposals, Novakovic said. The co-op proposal would instantly solve the issue of most concern for producers, raising the cheese milk price an average of $1.84 per hun- dredweight. However, it would dramatically affect cheese pro- cessors, which could lead to unfavorable consequences, he said. The co-op proposal would raise the all-milk price about $1 per hundredweight in Cal- ifornia and other Western (Non-FMMO) areas, but it would also increase produc- tion and lower that price to producers elsewhere as much as 25 cents, he said. “Part of the discussion is whether what happens in Cal- ifornia stays in California. A rock this big would have an ef- fect in other parts of the coun- try,” he said. The ongoing drought could challenge a production re- sponse in California, but on the other hand an additional $1 per hundredweight could have its own impact, he said. While the direction of US- DA-AMS projected changes Online Read the USDA analysis of proposals for establishing a federal milk marketing order for California: http://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/Preliminary%20 Impact%20Analysis%20-%20Final.pdf are consistent with what econ- omists would expect to see, the model probably overstates the increase to California’s all- milk price, and the pressure on prices elsewhere seems pretty high, said Mark Stephenson, director of dairy policy anal- ysis at the University of Wis- consin. But those prices have a bearing on other factors in the proposals, primarily milk pooling and quota payments. Pool quota While producers say the intent is to bring California milk prices in line with those in federal orders, they’ve also stood firm that loss of the state’s quota system — which pays more to produc- ers holding quota certificates, representing a physical asset — and optional processor par- ticipation in the milk pool are deal breakers. Considering the estimated increase of $1.84 in the cheese milk price and the decrease in the cheese milk price else- where, that would be almost a $2 change in competitive po- sition, Stephenson said. If processors were allowed to opt out of the pool (as they are in the federal system), they would. That would re- duce the overall milk price, and there wouldn’t be enough to support the pool, from which quota payment is de- rived, he said. If the quota system is dis- continued in a new federal order, dairy farmers would lose a lot of value on their bal- ance sheet because quota cer- tificates can be sold. It’s not just a matter of a higher milk price, Novakovic said. The whole point of switch- ing to a federal order is a high- er cheese milk price, but pro- cessors wonder where they’re going to get the money to pay higher milk prices and the preferential price on quota if pooling is mandatory, he said. The Institute proposal al- lows processors to opt in and out of the pool with certain restrictions. If cheese makers can and do opt out of the pool, the pool would crumble, Nova- kovic said. “That’s at the root of the debate. It’s a fundamental conflict” between producers and processors, he said. California’s cheese indus- try is quite big. If a big chunk of cheese processors decided not to be part of the system, it would be difficult for the remainder of the industry to make the pool work, he said. The higher cheese price, quota and automatic pooling reinforce each other in the co- op proposal, which combines aspects of the existing state order and the federal system. The processors’ proposal is more aligned with federal or- ders, he said. Outcome The federal order process will take nearly two years, leaving all kinds of opportu- nity for things to happen and making an outcome hard to predict, Novakovic said. But he sees three possible scenarios. Producers can wait until USDA-AMS finishes the pro- cess and see if the proposal is something they can live with. They could wait, end up with a terrible proposal and vote it down. Or, California ag offi- cials could change the rule and give producers a lot of what they want, he said. “A number of people in the dairy industry are a little sus- picious the last thing will hap- pen. It’s a distinct possibility,” he said. In fact, the issue would have been put to rest if Ag Secretary Karen Ross hadn’t put a time limit on the tempo- rary (one-year) cap increase to the whey value in 4b pric- ing that she assigned in July, he said. Stephenson expects the USDA-AMS proposal to con- tain aspects from each of the proposals. He thinks dairymen will be very disappointed if quota and mandatory pooling aren’t included, he said. “But if it provides im- provement in price, would they not take half a loaf?” he posed. It might not be as much as they want, but it might be better than what they have, he said. Johnson named interim chair of WSU animal sciences department Stripe rust New interim chair looks to fill expertise gaps By MATTHEW WEAVER Capital Press Kris Johnson is the new interim chair of Washington State University’s animal sci- ences department. She replaces Margaret Benson, who retired. Johnson said she hopes to fill some of the vacancies in the depart- ment created by retirements. Johnson hopes to work with WSU and College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Science administrators to prioritize vacant research, outreach and teaching positions and “build back some of that expertise, get some new expertise.” Johnson sees need in re- search and sustainable sys- tems, which include animal well-being, food quality and animal and human health. Johnson hopes to “make certain we provide our stake- holders the cutting-edge sci- ence, the information they need, the technology they need to be successful and sustainable.” The college also aims to prepare students so that they are career-ready the first day they begin a new job in ani- mal agriculture, she said. The department also works to provide outreach to farmers and ranchers. John- son said the department is developing programs about weed management and levels are low this summer Kris Johnson is the new interim chair of Washington State University’s Department of Animal Sciences. Johnson said her priorities include filling gaps in the department and making sure experts are available to work with farmers and ranchers. By MATTHEW WEAVER Capital Press Courtesy Washington State University grazing strategies during wildfire recovery. She wel- comes rancher and farmer comments and ideas for pro- grams. Johnson expects to hold the interim chair position for a year, with the option of a second year. WSU extension promotion leaves tree fruit endowed chair open Lane named the new director of the WSU Agricultural and Food Systems program By DAN WHEAT Capital Press WENATCHEE, Wash. — An en- dowed chair faculty position at the Washington State University Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee may be refocused fol- lowing the promotion of the person who has held the job for the last two years. Desmond Layne, endowed chair, professor of pomology and tree fruit extension leader at the center, be- came the new director of the WSU Agricultural and Food Systems and Dan Wheat/Capital Press Des Layne, director of the WSU Agricultural and Food Systems and Integrated Plant Sciences programs, will be teaching and involved in curriculum development.The programs have more than 400 students. Integrated Plant Sciences programs in Pullman on Sept. 1. The programs have more than 400 students and Layne will be teaching and involved in curriculum develop- ment and program assessment. The move leaves vacant Layne’s position in Wenatchee. It will be up to WSU administrators and the WSU Tree Fruit Endowment Advi- sory Committee to decide what hap- pens with industry endowment fund dollars that supported it, said Jim McFerson, center director and man- ager of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission. The position could be changed depending on industry needs, said Jake Gutzwiler, a committee mem- ber and quality control manager at Stemilt Growers LLC in Wenatchee. The seven-member committee is made up of industry members. Gutzwiler said he has no opinion right now on what should be done. “I need to look at it more,” he said. Rhizosphere ecology (soils and roots) and post-harvest systems are the next two endowed chair posi- tions to be activated, Gutzwiler said. Searches are underway, or soon will be, for people to fill those positions, he said. WSU pays the salaries and bene- fits of the endowed chairs but the in- dustry endowment pays for support staff. The state’s apple and pear grow- ers voted in 2011 and cherry grow- ers voted in 2013 to assess their tonnage for eight years to raise $32 million for endowments, whose in- terest earnings support personnel and equipment for six faculty po- sitions and research orchard oper- ations. Layne was state extension horti- culture program leader at Clemson University in South Carolina be- fore he was hired at WSU in 2013 at $167,693 per year. Dry weather helped keep stripe rust from infecting spring wheat in the Northwest this year, a USDA expert says. The disease got off to an early start in several locations, reaching severe levels in the Pullman and Walla Walla, Wash., winter wheat crops, said USDA Agricultural Research Service plant research geneti- cist Xianming Chen. But as the weather got hot- ter, the rust stopped developing. “Usually, when stripe rust is severe on winter wheat, spring wheat is likely to get severe rust, but some years can be different, like this year,” Chen said. Early applications of fungi- cide and an early harvest also played a part in easing stripe rust pressure. Chen doesn’t expect many rust spores to be in the air now, except in some locations in higher elevations that have re- ceived more moisture. Current signs point to a lighter rust level next year, but it’s too early to tell for sure, Chen said. Winter and spring conditions will be a determin- ing factor. “Rust is low, but it will nev- er completely go away from this area,” he said. In recent years, stripe rust races in the region have be- come the same as races else- where in the U.S. In the past, the Northwest hosted unique races. Some cultivars that were susceptible to the region-spe- cific races have regained their resistance, Chen said.