Calif. dairy groups await decision on whey value

California dairy groups say they made a strong case for increasing the whey value in the state's 4b milk pricing formula, used to set minimum prices for milk to manufacture cheese. The California Department of Food and Agriculture held a hearing on the issue on May 31 and June 1, drawing a standing-room-only crowd. A decision is expected by the end of August. The groups argued that California's whey value does not track with the value in federal marketing orders and results in a 4b price well below federal order Class III prices. Producers cited the tremendous economic burdens that have impacted California dairy families over the last several years, noting that costs of production on the dairy have increased significantly, said Michael Marsh, CEO of Western United Dairymen. They also argued the milk pricing formula does not stand up to California law that states prices must be in a "reasonable and sound" economic relationship with the national value. "We worked very hard to get our point across. Producers were very effective at communicating their position," Marsh said. (more) June 12, 2012 Capital Press