Maine Revised Statutes

§3151. Legislative Findings and Intent

The Legislature finds that among Maine's dairy farmers, prices received for milk differ substantially, and that these differences arise in part from a dual marketing system whereby approximately 1/2 the milk produced in Maine is marketed in Maine subject to the price control authority of the Maine Milk Commission, Maine market, while the other 1/2 is marketed to handlers selling in southern New England, commonly known as the Boston market, subject to the price regulations of the northeast marketing area milk marketing order. [1999, c. 679, Pt. B, §6 (AMD); 1999, c. 679, Pt. B, §14 (AFF).]

The Legislature finds that under this dual system, producers selling on the Maine market receive a significantly higher price for their milk than do their Boston market counterparts; that, in terms of net income after operating costs, producers on the Maine market receive, on the average, 50% more than their Boston market counterparts of equal size; that the lower net returns received by producers selling on the Boston market seriously limits their ability to withstand cost fluctuations caused by unpredictable increases in costs of fuel, credit, feed and other input costs or price fluctuations resulting from changing milk price support policies, all of which are largely controlled by national and international policies and other events beyond their control; that this relative vulnerability engenders an instability in the present marketing system resulting in a destructive competition for higher priced markets; that this instability has recently been aggravated by the introduction of store-brand milk in Maine markets; that the result is a serious threat not only to the viability of these Boston market farms but also to the Maine dairy industry as a whole; and that the loss of these dairy farms would seriously erode Maine's agricultural base. [1983, c. 573, §4 (NEW).]

The Legislature finds that the higher prices paid to Maine milk producers selling on the Maine market result from the state and federal regulatory framework of the milk industry, as well as from actual cost differences which would exist independent of any regulatory framework. Specifically, higher prices on the Maine market are found to derive from cost savings realized by the Maine market producers in transporting milk to local markets, and from a comparatively higher fluid milk, Class I, utilization rate. Whereas, this favorable utilization rate is made possible by the presence of 2 independently regulated markets which allow the sale of excess Maine production on the Boston market, with the result that such excess is excluded from the calculation of utilization rates on the Maine market, the Legislature finds that the resulting price difference is in the nature of an economic benefit which has arbitrarily accrued to Maine market producers over Boston market producers. [1983, c. 573, §4 (NEW).]

The Legislature finds that it is in the best interest of the Maine dairy industry and the well-being of the State as a whole to adjust prices paid to Maine milk producers to redistribute this benefit among Maine milk producers in both markets. In so doing, it is the intention of the Legislature to eliminate those differences attributable to the higher utilization rates which are a product of the 2 regulated markets. [1983, c. 573, §4 (NEW).]

The Legislature finds that dairy farms in Aroostook, Washington and northern Penobscot Counties presently operate at significantly higher costs because of their remoteness from markets and supplies; that they face greater risks because they operate on a closer margin; that their markets are less secure; and that negative changes in the overall economy have a magnified effect in the northern Maine region. [1999, c. 679, Pt. B, §6 (AMD); 1999, c. 679, Pt. B, §14 (AFF).]

It is the intent of the Legislature that the reblending of Class I premiums under the Maine Milk Pool created by this chapter be deemed to be the reapportionment of an economic benefit created by regulation in order to smooth out differences in milk prices between different markets and not as a tax on the income of Maine market producers. It is also the interest of the Legislature that deductions from the Maine Milk Pool for promotion be deemed to be deductions from the amounts otherwise payable from the pool to Maine and Boston market producers. [1983, c. 573, §4 (NEW).]

In addition to the above findings and as a result of the possible implementation of an over-order premium to be paid to milk producers, the Legislature finds that legislation is necessary to ensure that such a premium is distributed in a manner which is most advantageous and most equitable for all Maine milk producers and intends to achieve that result by enacting the provisions of this chapter relating to over-order pricing. The Legislature also finds that while the pooling and redistribution of such a premium as provided in this chapter is in the best interest of all Maine milk producers, it intends that redistribution to be a separate and distinct purpose and function of the Maine Milk Pool not essential to the purpose and function of the pool as originally enacted. [1987, c. 447, §3 (NEW).]

1983, c. 573, §4 (NEW). 1987, c. 447, §3 (AMD). 1999, c. 679, §B6 (AMD). 1999, c. 679, §B14 (AFF).