Approved Minutes

Northeast Dairy Compact Commission

Regular Monthly Meeting

May 11, 2001 Ė Newport Marriott, Newport, Rhode Island


Commissioners in attendance:

RI:        Al Bettencourt, Aaron Briggs, Jametta Alston, Ron Newman, and Peter Petrone
MA:     Mary Kelligrew Kassler and Bill Gillmeister
VT:      Jaques Couture, Robert Starr, Andy Dykstra, Millicent Rooney and Harold Howrigan
NH:      Debora Erb and Douglas Morris
ME:      Colon Durrell Stan Millay and Fred Hardy
CT:      Robert DíAllessando, 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

Chair Mae Schmidle called the meeting to order at 10:15, and brought greetings from Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Almond.

Executive Director Dan Smith thanked the Rhode Island delegation for their hospitality.


I. Public Participation:

  Rhode Island dairy farmer Jane Escobar informed that Commission that farms are now able to pay their bills because the Compact price regulation has worked to keep milk prices at a reasonable level.

  Bob Wellington from Agrimark gave a marketplace update, and stated that milk prices are now projected to rise and stay about the Compact price regulation at least until the end of the year.  He cautioned, however, that the higher prices never last long, and when they fall, they fall precipitously. He said there is an absolute need for the Compact in this context, and it is doing exactly as intended.

  New York Dairy farmer Ken Dibble spoke at length about the need to increase the amount of the over order obligation.


II. Introduction of Guests

  Commissioner Schmidle introduced Representative Patrick Kennedy, who spoke positively of the Compact and the price regulationís benefits to consumers and farmers. Kennedy said he is a tremendous supporter of the Compact, and will do everything he can to help it through in Washington. He described the Compact as vital to the economy, the maintenance of open space in Rhode Island and to the character of New England. He said fighting for the Compact means fighting for a way of life.

  Commissioner Ron Newman introduced Jan Reitsma, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and Key Ayars, Chief of the Rhode Island Division of Agriculture.

  Commissioner Peter Petrone introduced Becky Bissette, Rhode Island WIC Program Director.

  Other Guests Present: Gabe Moquin, Connecticut Department of Agriculture; Kelly Furstenburg; Jane and Louis Escobar, Rhode Island dairy farmers; Ray DeSanto, Federal Market Administratorís office;  Frank Kenyon, Rhode Island dairy farmer; Leon Graves, Commissioner Vermont Department of Agriculture, Food and Markets; Anne Howrigan; Pat Green, reporter for Country Folks; Steve Blackhurst; Carl Peterson, Agrimark; Fred Kenyon, Rhode Island dairy farmer; Ray Christianson, NY agriculture; Mary Murphy; Bob Wellington, Agrimark; Ken Dibble, dairy farmer.


III. Consideration to approve of Minutes of April 11, 2001 meeting:

  Motion 5/11-1 by Jacques Couture/ Second by Ron Newman
Moved to approve the minutes of the April 11, 2001 monthly meeting as presented



VI. Financial Statement: Month Ending March 31, 2001:

Commissioner Durrell stated he would move acceptance of the March 31, 2001 financial report later in the meeting.

V. Reports

A. Chairís Report

Commissioner Schmidle extended sympathy to Commissioner Fred Hardy on the death of his wife, and read from an official tribute by Senator Leahy in the March 9, 2001 Congressional Record in honor of Commissioner Harold Howrigan.


B. Executive Directorís Report

Mr. Smith reported the Commission is beginning again to run under its own momentum. He attributed the success in part to the new staff finding their way in their jobs. He also noted Regulations Administrator Carmen Ross continues to be the anchor for operations of the price regulation.

Mr. Smith stated that the Organic Cow litigation was scheduled for oral argument for June 13.

Mr. Smith said the New Hampshire license of Turner Dairy had been suspended due to non-payment of the Compact over-order obligation, and that Turnerís plans remain uncertain. The Commission intends to maintain a firm stance on the issue.

Mr. Smith briefly discussed the approval process in other states, indicating that Oklahoma has newly passed Compact legislation, and that Texas is considering the legislation. He also noted that the compact bill was in the process of being introduced in Congress. 

Mr. Smith announced the Massachusetts meeting in Wenham on June 6, and said the July meeting will be in Maine and the August meeting in Connecticut.


D. Committee on Administration Report 

No report.

E. Committee on Regulations and Rulemaking Report

No report.

VI. New Business

Recommendations of Committee on Finance

Treasurer Colon Durrell recommended that the Commission accept the March 31, 2001 financial report.


Motion 5/11- 2 by Colon Durrell on behalf of Finance Committee
Move to file for audit the March 31, 2001 financial report

VII. Informational Review and Update

Commissioners Ron Newman and Peter Petrone welcomed the delegations, and Al Bettencourt welcomed the Commission as well on behalf of the Rhode Island Farm Bureau.

A. The Compact and the Consumer Protection Division of Rhode Island.

  Commissioner Jametta Alston referred to the Rhode Island delegation as the Compactís canary in the coalmine Ė the factor that allows the Commission to know itís still healthy. She described the Consumer Protection Divisionís function in the Attorney Generalís office, and explained the Divisionís function as the consumer advocate on the Commission.

  B. Presentation on Open Space and Environmental Concerns

  Jan Reitsma, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management discussed the benefits of the operation of the Compact of not only preserving open space but also preserving the land conservatorship of farmers on working farms. His statement at length is attached.

  (Statement attached)

C. The Compact Price Regulation and the Rhode Island WIC Program

  Commissioner Peter Petrone said the Compact price regulation and the WIC program work smoothly together, and that the intended purpose of ďholding harmlessĒ the WIC program has been achieved.

  (Statement attached)

D. Rhode Island Dairy Industry and the Dairy Compact

  Rhode Island dairy farmer Louis Escobar said the Compact price regulation is crucial to preserving open space. He said farming is a more respectable business now than it was when he was young, because it protects that space. He said the Compact check keeps him going, and without it he and other farmers would be unable to continue.

Mr. Smith read a letter from the Rhode Island Food Security Coalition (attached).

Commissioner Schmidle introduced Ken Ayars, Rhode Island Division of Agriculture Chief, who said he was very appreciative of the Compact Commissionís efforts.

VIII. Public Participation (after lunch)

Ken Dibble reiterated his concerns about Compact pricing, and said he objected to the WIC reimbursement provision.

  Louis Escobar reiterated his opinion that the Rhode Island dairy industry would likely not continue for long without the Compact price regulation. Leon Graves gave a brief update on the current situation of the Compact legislation in Washington D.C.

  IX. 2001 Recognition Awards

  Appreciation awards were given to Rhode Island Senator Kevin Breene and Representative Stephen Anderson. Robert Lyons, brother-in-law of Representative Anderson, accepted the award on Rep. Andersonís behalf. Both Representative Anderson and Senator Breene were active in passing Rhode Island Compact legislation.

  X. Staff Reports

  A. Supply Management Program Report

  Staff Counsel Tom Lehner and Regulations Administrator Carmen Ross briefly discussed the procedure in development for administering the supply management program, and the Application Claim Form producers will submit in order to participate in the program.

  B. Congressional Impact Report/ Regulations Review

  Mr. Smith said Consultant Deb Brighton is still solidifying the farm information database and should be able to comment at the next meeting on the impact the Compact has on farms by category. He also indicated he would report at the next meeting on the price regulation review.

  XI. The Compact and its Impact on the Wholesale and Retail Markets

  Dr. Ronald Cotterill, Director, Food Marketing Policy Center, The University of Connecticut, gave a detailed review of his study on the Compact price regulation and retail pricing.

  (Summary statement attached)

  XII. Presentations by Rhode Island Congressional Delegation Designees

  Sarah Dennigan from the office of U.S. Senator Jack Reed read a statement on the behalf of the Senator.

  (Letter attached)

  XIII. Announcements: Opportunity for individual state comments

  Commissioner Starr voiced his appreciation to the Rhode Island delegation. Commissioner Stan Milay also voiced appreciation to the delegation.

Chair Schmidle adjourned the meeting at 3 p.m.