California Dairy Campaign (CDC) and California Farmers Union (CFU) leaders presented Rep. David G. Valadao (CA-21) with an award for outstanding agricultural leadership during their joint annual convention, Jan. 18 in Hanford, Calif. Valadao introduced the “California Federal Milk Marketing Order Act” which is included in the House version of the Farm Bill under consideration by the conference committee. The bill would enable California dairy producers to retain their quota program if they decide to join the federal milk marketing order (FMMO) system.

“We awarded Valadao for his leadership on a range of issues, but in particular for introducing legislation that would enable California dairy producers to join the federal milk marketing order system,” stated California Farmers Union (CFU) President Joaquin Contente of Hanford. “Although dairy producer prices have improved recently, prices paid to California dairy producers continue to be significantly below federal order prices and our membership strongly supports joining the federal order to restore some equity to our system.”

“For far too long California dairy producers have been underpaid compared to federal order states, which has led to accumulated losses of more than $1 billion to dairy producers around our state,” CDC President Joe Augusto explained. “We commend Rep. Valadao for his leadership on this critical issue. Tonight USDA Deputy Administrator Dana Coale spoke in great detail to our membership about the process for joining the federal order. This important process will begin once the Valadao legislation is passed by Congress,” Augusto concluded.

USDA Deputy Administrator for Dairy Programs Dana Coale, who oversees the FMMO, spoke to the convention audience about the process to establish a federal milk marketing order.

California Assembly Member Rudy Salas (CA-32) spoke about his efforts at the state level to address the challenges faced by dairy producers. National Farmers Union (CFU) Director of Media Relations Melisa Augusto outlined the work of NFU during the ongoing farm bill debate including Farmers Union’s strong support for California to join the federal order system, efforts to defend mandatory country of origin labeling of meat and other critical issues.

Comprised of more than 1300 farmer, and rancher members, CFU advocates policies to lawmakers at the state and national levels on behalf of its membership throughout California. CDC, a member organization, is a grassroots organization of dairy farmers who are working to encourage lawmakers and the dairy industry to be more responsive to the needs of the family dairy farm in California. CFU is a state chapter of NFU, which represents more than 250,000 members nationwide.