DECEMBER 1, 1999



Commission members in attendance:

CT: Shirley Ferris, Robert Jacquier, Mae Schmidle, Richard Allen

MA: Gordon Cook, Mary K. Kassler, Sam Shields, James Heinz

ME: Linda Smith Dyer, Fred Hardy, Colon Durrell

NH: Douglas Morris, Debora Erb, Powell Cabot

RI: Al Bettencourt Jr., Aaron Briggs, Ron Newman, Peter Petrone

VT: Jacques Couture, Andy Dykstra, Harold Howrigan, Robert Starr

Ex Officio members present:

Leon Graves, Vermont Department of Agriculture, Food and Markets

Commission Staff present:

Kenneth Becker, Executive Director; Dixie Henry, General Counsel, Carmen Ross, Regulations Administrator; David Ferch, Public Information Director; Patricia Lammott, Temporary Office Assistant

Chairman Mae Schmidle called the meeting to order at 11:11 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 1999.

I. Public participation:

Bob Wellington said federal farm milk prices collapsed in December by $4.77 cwt, to a level within a few pennies of the federal price support level. He also predicted there will be Compact payments at least through the first six months of 2000.

B. Wellington also announced that Agri-Mark will probably not pursue the lawsuit enjoining USDA from implementing milk market order reform since Congress passed a law mandating Option 1A.

Ray Christensen of New York Department of Agriculture and Markets congratulated the Commission on reauthorization and said New York would pursue joining the Compact in the coming year.

L. Graves announced a meeting has been called by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture on Dec. 15, to discuss dairy policy strategy for the coming year.

II. Introduction of guests:

Susan Harlow, Carl Petersen, Kay Zeosky, Ray Christensen, Gail Christensen, Gabe Moquin, and Eric Rasmussen.

  1. Consideration of the minutes for Nov. 10, 1999:
  2. Motion 12/1-1 by Andy Dykstra/Second by Debra Erb

    Moved to accept the minutes as presented.


  3. Communications:
  4. K. Becker relayed a letter received from former Commissioner Chairman Mike Wiers congratulating the Commission on reauthorization.

  5. Financial:
  6. Treasurer's Report for the Month ending Oct. 1999:

    M. Kassler said that on account of the Thanksgiving Day holiday, the report for October was not received until Nov. 28. Consequently the committee had not had a chance to review the report so the Commission will receive a full report on November and December data at the January meeting.

  7. Reports.
  1. Chair's Report:
  2. M. Schmidle announced the creation of a new Commission directory.

  3. Executive Director's Report:
  4. K. Becker told the Commission about the press conference held in the Vermont Capitol Building celebrating reauthorization.

    K. Becker also announced that because federal milk prices were higher than $16.94 in November, there will be no pool in December. Although there will be a December pool paid in January.

    K. Becker also referred to the Dec. 15 strategy session being held in North Carolina.

    K. Becker asked D. Ferch to explain the rationale for switching internet service providers, which he did.

  5. Committee on Finance report:
  6. No report.

  7. Committee on Administration report.
  8. M. Kassler said she would offer a motion to pay bills under old business.

  9. Audit Committee:
  10. No Report.

  11. Nominating Committee:
  12. To be offered under New Business.

  13. Bylaws Committee:
  14. No report.

  15. Committee on Regulations and Rulemaking:
  16. B. Starr said the economists from the University of Vermont would attend the January Commission meeting to discuss their report. In the interim, B. Starr said the Commission should formally accept the report.

  17. Ad Hoc Personnel Committee

To be offered under New Business.

  1. Old Business:
  1. Report by Reauthorization Tracking Committee:
  2. B. Starr said the Compact is reauthorized and there is no more need for a tracking committee.

  3. Deliberative Meeting on Proposed Supply Management Program:

To move the process forward, B. Starr suggested a motion to reject the Base/Excess model for supply management and instead pursue the Refund/Assessment plan.

R. Newman asked for a brief description of the two plans.

B. Starr referred to the public hearing in White River Junction where a Federal Market Administrator described his operation of a base/excess plan and how cumbersome it was to administer. The refund/assessment, by comparison is more simple. A percentage of each month's pool is escrowed. At the end of the year, the escrowed sum is disbursed to the region's farmers based on how close their annual production was to the previous year's total. The Committee on Regulations and Rulemaking will meet before the January meeting to develop a specific proposal with fixed percentages for escrow amounts and production increases.

H. Howrigan asked why the Commission needs to reject the Base/Excess plan if it was never formally adopted.

B. Starr said that because the Commission pursued a formal hearing process on the base/excess plan there needs to be decisive action on the part of the Commission.

G. Cook said this proposal would not lock the Commission into a specific action. It simply directs the Committee to pursue one option over another.

D. Erb asked if this decision is based on testimony received in public hearing.

B. Starr said testimony is being considered but the public hearing process is not the same as a referendum, dictating a particular outcome.

G. Cook asked if it was possible to re-open the comment period to entertain more testimony on a refund/assessment plan.

B. Starr said it is possible but not necessary given how much testimony has already been received.

D. Erb questioned whether any testimony was received on the refund/assessment option.

B.Starr said testimony was received on the refund/assessment option.

S. Shields said the issue is not about managing supply but rather income redistribution and political correctness.

S. Shields asked if the plan will control supply and remove the requirement to make payments to the Commodity Credit Corp. (CCC).

B. Starr said there is no guarantee.

D.Erb said a refund assessment plan will not control supply because the Compact represents only 3 percent of farm income and 3 percent is not enough to affect production decisions.

B. Starr said this plan does not penalize farmers because no one is being told how many cows to milk.

G. Cook said the purpose is to avoid rewarding over-production.

J.Couture said he agreed with G. Cook and that this plan should accomplish that.

K.Becker said the mandate to the Commission is not to control supply, but rather to ensure the actions of the Commission do not create an incentive to generate additional supplies of milk.

Motion 12/1-2 by Bobby Starr on behalf of the Committee on Regulations and Rulemaking

Moved to reject the base/excess plan and to move forward with the assessment/refund plan.

MOTION PASSED 5 TO 0 (Rhode Island abstaining)

Recess for Lunch 12:25 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Public Participation:

S. Ferris said she would like to see a dialogue between Northeast farmers and farmers from the Upper Midwest on dairy issues.

VII New Business

    1. Election of Officers:
    2. M. Schmidle handed control of the meeting to R. Newman who then asked A. Dykstra to issue a report from the nominating committee.

      A.Dykstra said the nominating committee would offer two slates. The first slate of candidates included: L. Dyer for chair, M. Schmidle for vice chair, M. Kassler for secretary, P. Cabot for treasurer, and H. Howrigan and A. Briggs for the two at-large positions.

      The second slate of candidates consisted of: M.Schmidle for chair, L. Dyer for vice chair, M. Kassler for secretary, P. Cabot for treasurer and H. Howrigan and A. Briggs for the two at-large positions.


      R. Newman opened the nominations to the floor.

      L.Dyer said she was not willing to serve as vice chair.

      D.Erb said the nominating committee was charged with issuing one slate of candidates, not two.

      B.Starr suggested the nominating committee return at the Jan. 5 meeting with a single slate of candidates.

      D.Henry said the Commission by-laws state the election of officers take place at the December meeting.

      A.Dykstra suggested the nominating committee meet immediately for a few minutes to come up with a single slate.

      The meeting was recessed for a few minutes.

      A.Dykstra proposed a slate consisting of: L. Dyer for chair, M. Schmidle for vice chair, M. Kassler for secretary, P. Cabot for treasurer, and H. Howrigan and A. Briggs for the two at-large positions.

      G. Cook moved the vote.

      R. Newman called for the ballots to be distributed and then tallied by D.Henry and D.Ferch.

      Six ballots were cast. The results were unanimous for the proposed slate (See attached tabulation)

      Motion 12/1-3 by Andy Dykstra on behalf of the Nominating Committee

      Moved to nominate a slate of candidates consisting of Linda Smith Dyer, Chair; Mae Schmidle, Vice Chair; Mary Kassler, Secretary; Powell Cabot, Treasurer; Aaron Briggs, At-Large; Harold Howrigan, At-Large.



      With consensus of the Commission, R. Newman then ordered the ballots destroyed.

    3. Committee on Regulations and Rulemaking.
    4. B.Starr moved that the Commission formally accept the market impacts study by the University of Vermont.

      Motion 12/1-4 by Bobby Starr on behalf of the Committee on Regulations and Rulemaking

      Moved to accept the market impact studies from the University of Vermont and University of Massachusetts at Amherst.



      G.Cook said the title should reflect that the University of Massachusetts at Amherst performed part of the study.

      B.Starr announced that the Committee on Regulations and Rulemaking would bring a proposal to re-examine the Class 1 floor price of $16.94 and also technical corrections to make the Commission's regulations comply with changes in the federal milk market order. The committee will also examine the school milk and the Women, Infants and Children reimbursement programs.

      Although the item was not placed on the agenda, M. Kassler said she would offer a motion to pay the market administrator's bills for September and October.

      Motion 12/1-5 by Mary Kassler on behalf of the Committee on Administration

      Moved that the Commission pay the bills from the market administrator for the work done in September and October 1999



    5. Audit committee:
    6. The audit committee had no recommendations.

      R.Jacquier then offered an ovation for M.Schmidle and the work she performed as chairman.

      S.Ferris said the Connecticut governor's support for the Compact is attributable to M.Schmidle's work.

      H.Howrigan said it has been his pleasure to work with M.Schmidle.

      G. Cook asked, with the intent of getting this issue recorded in the minutes, if all processors are paying the Compact premium to the farmers.

      K.Becker said that all processors are audited, which sometimes result in adjustments. At the moment there was one handler out of 60 who is arrears but by a small amount. There are questions as to whether a different handler has paid the farmer-clients and that issue is being worked on.

      H.Howrigan asked about the October pool numbers, to which C.Ross said a revised report was anticipated because of changes from projected figures.

      The next Commission meeting will be held Jan. 5, 2000, at 10 a.m. at the Centennial Inn, Concord, NH.

    7. Ad Hoc Personnel Committee

Motion 12/1-6 by Linda Dyer/Second by Fred Hardy

Moved that the Commission go into executive session for the purpose of discussing personnel matters.


The Commission went into executive session at 2:20 p.m.

The Commission emerged from executive session at 2:50 p.m. and adjourned.


Respectfully submitted,




Powell Cabot, Secretary

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