Northeast Dairy Compact Commission
Regular Monthly Meeting
April 11, 2001 Capitol Plaza Hotel, Montpelier, VT
Commissioners in attendance:
RI: Al Bettencourt, Aaron Briggs, Jamella Alston, Ron Newman, and Peter Petrone
MA: Jay Healy, Mary Kassler and Gordon Cook
VT: Jaques Couture, Robert Starr, Andy Dykstra, Millicent Rooney, and Harold Howrigan
NH: Debora Erb, Douglas Morris and Powell Cabot
ME: Colon Durrell and Stan Millay
CT: Robert D’Allessando, Neil Marcus, Robert Jacquier, Shirley Ferris, and Mae Schmidle
Commission staff in attendance:
Dan Smith, Executive Director; Tom Lehner, Staff Counsel; Carmen Ross, Regulations Administrator; Nancy Audette, Office Manager; Amy Mandeville, Public Information Director
I. Chair Mae Schmidle called the meeting to order at 10:40 AM
II. Introduction of Guests:
Commissioner Schmidle introduced Mike Weirs of Maine as the first Chair to serve the Commission.
Mr. Smith introduced the Chairs of the Vermont House and Senate Agriculture Committees, and Francis Howrigan, a former State Senator and Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Herb Kling introduced himself as one of the first people involved with the idea of a Dairy Compact in 1983, describing the initial process and the people involved.
Guests included Mike Weirs, first Chairperson of Northeast Dairy Compact Commission; Leon Graves, Commissioner Vermont Department of Agriculture, Food and Markets; Sen. Sara Branon Kittell, Chair of Vermont Senate Agriculture Committee; Rep. Ruth Towne, Chair of Vermont House Agriculture Committee; Francis Howrigan, Former State Senator and Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee; Herb Kling, Retired New York State Representative; Erik Rasmussen, Federal Milk Market Administrator; Millie Kling; Stan Christiansen; Andy Christiansen; John Valutic; Ron Cotterill; Rep. Dan Darrow; Pat Green, Reporter for Country Folks; Deb Brighton, Compact Commission Consultant; Beth Witherman; Ray Christiansen, New York Department of Agriculture and Markets;Gail Christiansen, New York farmer; Clark Hinsdale; Jenny Nelson; Sherry Russell; Jane Mendicino, Vermont Grange; Susan Harlow, Northeast Dairy Business; Judy Aldridge; Carl Peterson, Agrimark, Inc.; James Moroni; Casey Assey; Bob Wellington, Agrimark, Inc.; Warren Facie
III. Public Participation:
Bob Wellington from Agrimark said milk prices are expected to go up in May, eliminating the need for a Compact payment to farmers that month. He suggested that would be a good time for the Commission to raise the minimum price. Wellington pointed out there has been no public review of the price in four years, and the need for a higher price is because of costs going up do to an increase in fuel prices.
IV. Consideration of Minutes of March 14, 2001 meeting:
Motion 4/11-1 by Peter Petrone/ Second by Andy Dykstra
Move for minutes to be adopted as presented
MOTION PASSED 6 TO 0
V. Financial Statement: Month Ending February 28, 2001:
Commissioner Durrel, Treasurer, presented the financial statements for the Administrative Fund and the Producer Settlement Fund for the month ending February 28, 2001.
A. Chair’s Report
Commissioner Schmidle mentioned the move of the Commission office and complimented staff.
B. Executive Director’s Report
Mr. Smith briefly discussed the work of the Compact Impact Report and the supply management refund program.
D. Regulations and Rulemaking
Commissioner Starr reported on the activity of the Committee and on the possibility of raising the floor price of milk, and said the Committee conferenced this week and will continue to conference.
VII. Old Business
Recommendations of Committee on Rules and Regulations
Commissioner Starr said the Committee has been looking at the impact of the Compact over-order price and called attention to the Committee’s report to the Commission.
Commissioner Deb Erb asked if the Committee is still gathering information. Commissioner Starr confirmed it is, but that a bulk of the information is still unavailable. Erb asked if now might be an appropriate time for a hearing.
Smith said the process of a formal hearing would not be flexible, and that data can be gathered informally and the next step is a sharper analysis looking at the relationship between the Federal price and the Compact price. The staff will report on the impact assessment, as it is develops each month.
VIII. New Business
Recommendations of Committee of Administration
Motion 4/11-2 by Peter Petrone on behalf of Committee on Administration
Moved the Commission hold the next regular monthly meeting on May 11, 2001 at the Marriot Hotel, in Newport, Rhode Island
MOTION PASSED 6 TO 0
IX. Announcements: Opportunity for individual state comments.
Commissioner Starr welcomed Commissioners to Vermont.
Commissioner Newman invited everyone to May’s meeting in RI.
Motion 4/11-3 by Jay Healy/Second by Ron Newman
Moved the Commission hold the July meeting on July 11,2001 in Massachusetts
MOTION PASSED 6 TO 0
X. Informational update: Compact Impact Report to Congress reviewed by Dan Smith, Executive Director and Deb Brighton, Consultant
Smith said the study, started in summer 2000, is designed to respond to all questions of how the compact works and what its impact is. Smith said staff and consultant Brighton are looking through current studies, which have vastly divergent conclusions everything from ‘all the money comes out of consumers pockets’ to ‘all of the money comes from the margin.’
The study will also examine the survival rate of farms during the time of the Compact, analyzed by the amount of milk production and the size of dairy herds.
Smith and Brighton hope to have determined by the next meeting the profitability of farms based on size. They hope soon to have completed analysis for presentation to the Commission and Congress, as well as available on the Commission website.
Brighton said the study is not being done to prove anything one way or the other, but to figure out who has been most effected by the Compact and how.
Commissioners Healy and Kassler asked how the environmental aspect of the Compact might be quantified in the analysis.
Smith said they are still determining how that piece will be included.
Lunch recess 12:05 PM
Reconvene 1:10 PM
XI. 2001 Recognition Awards Honorable John McHugh
Representative Robert A. Starr
Senator (Ret.) Francis Howrigan
Daniel Smith, Esq.
Original Compact supporters were honored in a brief presentation. Congressman McHugh, unable to attend, addressed the assembled by letter.
Smith introduced Sen. Jim Jeffords, who presented awards to Starr, Sen. Francis Howrigan and Dan Smith
XII. Presentations by Honorable James M. Jeffords
Honorable Bernard Sanders
Honorable Howard Dean, M.D.
Ed Barron, representative from office of Senator Patrick J. Leahy
Senator Jeffords emphasized the importance of reauthorization and commended Congressman Sanders for his work on the issue. He spoke of his confidence in the success of the Compact.
Rep. Sanders spoke of the importance of small family farms in the country, and of the 700,000 that have gone under in the past 20 years.
Governor Dean said the Compact is working well, even if it’s not perfect. He said the Midwest dairy strategy seemed to be to drive up the loss of farms in the northeast rather than lowering their own losses. He said he expected the Compact issue to be tacked onto another bill because of the lack of enthusiasm on the part of President Bush.
Ed Barron spoke briefly in favor of the Compact on behalf of Senator Leahy.
Commissioner Healy asked the assembled guests about the threat of the consolidation of large processors. Governor Dean said Vermont can’t do much about it because the companies in question, Dean Foods and Suiza, don’t both trade in the state.
Commissioner Marcus asked why the issue of adding states and renewing the compact couldn’t be presented in separate bills. Rep. Sanders said the Compact needs the clout of as many senators and representatives as possible to strengthen the current position.
The Commission adjourned at 1:53 p.m.
Douglas Morris, Secretary