At a public hearing prior to its July 6 regular meeting, members of the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board heard testimony related to changes in a section of the milk marketing regulations that governs how milk dealers report purchases and receipts.
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Testimony was provided by Steven Zalman, director of enforcement and accounting, on behalf of board staff. No additional testimonies were offered.

Board staff and members of the Pennsylvania Association of Milk Dealers have been working for months to revise 7 Pa. Code chapter 149.

Chapter 149 of the code deals with a uniform system of records and accounts that is in place for all licensed dealers. Without such a system of uniformity, it would be nearly impossible for board staff to conduct audits and make routine decisions.

Most people don’t realize that we record the amount of raw milk that dealers purchase from individual producers (or cooperatives as a producer), including butterfat content and price paid.

Of course, dealers are required to meet board-established minimum producer prices, and some pay more than that with various premiums.

People also don’t recognize that dealers submit records of where and to whom milk is delivered and sold, and of how much milk is used for the manufacturing of dairy products. They also submit receipts from sales.

Many other items figure into the uniform system of accounting required of milk dealers. These items can be viewed on our website (mmb.pa.gov). Under the Legal tab, click on “Milk Marketing Board Regulations.”

The changes requested and proposed are important because they reflect the board staff’s need for consistency in data received and the need for modern software usage among licensed dealers.

The most important part of this process has been board staff and members of the Pennsylvania Association of Milk Dealers working collaboratively to review and revise suggested changes to chapter 149.

This is a reflection of the commitment from both parties, working to not get bogged down in legal discussion until involvement of both staff and the association’s attorneys is a necessary part of the process.

It worked well, and we are continuing to review other parts of the regulations that may need to be updated.

The process didn’t end with the July 6 hearing, though. That hearing was the first step in the regulatory review process.

A draft of the proposed changes will be circulated to the industry. After taking into account any suggested revisions, the proposed amendments will be submitted to the attorney general’s office and, if approved, will then be sent to the House and Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs committees, and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission.

At the same time as the desired changes are submitted to the commission, the proposed regulation will be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

Publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin opens a 30-day public comment period in which any citizen of the commonwealth may provide input on the proposed changes. Past experience tells us that this part of the process will generate questions about specific suggested changes to which we must reply within a specified time frame.

After responding to questions, we will incorporate appropriate changes and produce a draft of what we hope will be the final regulation change. The final draft will be submitted to both the Independent Regulatory Review Commission and the ag committees.

If the commission approves the final draft, it goes to the attorney general’s office for one last approval. Following this, the board will issue an order to be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin; the regulation change will go into effect upon publication.

I think it is important for the general public, and particularly those in the dairy industry, to understand the process involved in changing a regulation. What might seem like a simple process at first glance is really rather complex and involved.

And the process from start to finish can take upwards of two years.

This is an important concept to understand because we are often asked why certain changes cannot be made or why things cannot move quicker.

Trust me, we wish we could make things happen faster, but we also understand the need for the commonwealth to be sure that its regulations can pass strict judicial and legal reviews.

The process does, however, begin with desired changes formally communicated to the board by our constituents — including you.

PMMB is always available to respond to questions and concerns. I can be reached at 717-210-8244 or by email at chardbarge@pa.gov.

-Carol Hardbarger is the secretary of the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board.

With calving underway, dairy farmers are being urged to plan ahead to combat feed shortages.

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