The public hearing to consider the establishment of a Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) for California concluded on November 18, 2015.
Over the duration of the hearing, which began on September 22, more than 90 individuals provided testimony and entered 198 exhibits. Hearing attendance varied from approximately 30 to over 100 people per day, with another 30 to 60 people tuning in each day to the audio webcast.
USDA estimates the total number of transcript pages at around 8,000, not including exhibits. USDA expects to make the complete transcript and hearing exhibits available on its website, www.ams.usda.gov/caorder, by January 1, 2016.
The Administrative Law Judge set the following deadlines for next steps in the process:
- Transcript corrections due January 15;
- Post-hearing briefs due March 31; and
- Reply briefs due May 16.
After reply briefs are submitted, USDA will develop and issue a Recommended Decision based on the evidence presented during the rulemaking. USDA will request public comment on the Recommended Decision.
After receiving and analyzing the public comments, USDA will issue a Final Decision. If USDA recommends a Federal Milk Marketing Order, dairy farmers potentially covered by the Order will vote on whether to adopt it. A “yes” vote by more than two-thirds of the dairy farmers or dairy farmers representing two-thirds of the milk produced is needed to approve the order.
This process is expected to take around eighteen months.