For Immediate Release, November 23, 1998

Contact: Tina Wisell, (802) 229-1941

Northeast Dairy Compact Commission to Hold Two Public Hearings on Several Issues in December as Part of a Proposed Subjects and Issues Rulemaking Process

The Northeast Dairy Compact Commission took action recently to initiate a Subjects and Issues Rulemaking in order to seek testimony concerning whether the Compact price regulation should be amended to address a variety of issues. As part of the rulemaking process, the Commission will be holding public hearings in December in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

The Commission will be seeking testimony and comments on specific subjects and issues related to (1) whether to amend the formula for distribution of monies from the producer-settlement fund, including whether to adopt a cap on the amount of milk, per producer, eligible for the Compact Over-order producer price; (2) whether additional supply management policies and provisions should be incorporated into the Over-order Price Regulation; (3) whether organic milk should be exempted from the Compact Over-order Price Regulation; and (4) whether the amount of, or method for determining, the administrative assessment should be amended.

Regulations and Rulemaking Committee Chair Bobby Starr said, "The Commission will be seeking comment on some specific supply management and income distribution proposals as part of the rulemaking process. These include a proposal by the Massachusetts delegation which would limit the milk eligible for the Compact Over-order producer price to up to 95,000 pounds of a producer's monthly milk production; a split pool proposal; a proposal to cap the largest producers; and a refund/assessment option. This, however, is not a conclusive list. The Commission will also take comment on other proposals that people may choose to submit."

He continued, "Organic milk handlers have petitioned the Commission to consider exempting organic milk from the Compact price regulation. Since the Commission voted at its September meeting, to consider that request during the next Commission rulemaking proceeding, the Commission will also be taking comment on the issue of organic milk."

"One final issue the Commission will be accepting comment on," Starr concluded, "is the administrative assessment. The receipts from handlers who pay the administrative assessment are used to fund the Commission's general expenses. Since the Compact Commission has administered the Compact regulation for over a year, it now has a history of its financial needs. Including the administrative assessment in the rulemaking will allow the Commission to determine whether there is an opportunity to adjust the assessment based on the Commission's needs."

The Commission will hold public hearings on the proposed rulemaking at the following locations:

Friday, December 11, 1998

Holiday Inn at Boxborough Woods - Parade Room - 242 Adams Place, Boxborough, MA

Exit 28 off I-495 to Route 111

Public Hearing on Administrative Assessment - 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Public Hearing on Income Distribution and Supply Management - 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Wednesday, December 16, 1998

Tuck Library Building - Chubb Auditorium - 30 Park Street - Concord, NH

Exit 14 off I-93

Public Hearing on Organic Milk - 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

The Compact Commission will be accepting written comments on the rulemaking and is encouraging interested persons to submit pre-filed testimony. The deadline for receipt of pre-filed testimony is 12:00 p.m., December 7, 1998. The deadline for receipt of all documentary evidence submissions is 5:00 p.m. December 31, 1998. Comments, exhibits and pre-filed testimony must identify the authorís name, address and occupation, and include a sworn notarized statement indicating the comment, exhibit and/or pre-filed testimony is presented based upon the authorís personal knowledge and belief.

Notarized written comments, exhibits, and pre-filed testimony should be submitted to: Northeast Dairy Compact Commission, 43 State St., P. O. Box 1058, Montpelier, VT 05601. The Commission will also accept faxed copies at the following fax number: (802) 229-2028. Facsimile copies will only be accepted if received by the 5:00 p.m deadlines as outlined above. The original copies must then be sent by ordinary mail.

The complete notice of rulemaking proceedings will be published in the Federal Register. Interested persons can also contact the Compact Commission Office at (802) 229-1941 or the Compact Commission's web site for more information.

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