Vermont Milk Commission Continues DeliberationsMontpelier, Vt – The Vermont Milk Commission will conduct further hearings as part of its deliberations about whether to issue a retail fluid milk premium. The Commission has also started a separate review of chain supermarket milk prices in Vermont.The Milk Commission met on October 16, 2008 to review the evidence gathered during the recent hearing held on the Commission’s proposed Order to establish a retail fluid milk premium. The Commission’s proposed Order would establish a surcharge on all beverage milk sold at retail in Vermont. The surcharge would be imposed on the sale of raw milk used by milk processing companies for the Vermont retail sales, and be collected from the processors. The surcharge proceeds would be distributed to Vermont producers, and also to out of state dairy farmers who provide raw milk used for retail beverage milk sales in the Vermont marketplace.Based on the hearing record, the Commission made three decisions at the follow up October 16 meeting:The Commission1. Amended the proposed Order by removing the fixed dollar amount that would have been used for calculating the amount of the surcharge and substituting a monthly hearing process for determining the surcharge amount.2. Continued its deliberations on the proposed Order by scheduling an additional hearing to collect further testimony about the possible impact on the marketplace of the proposed distribution of the surcharge’s proceeds among in-state and out-of state producers.3. Initiated a second, separate inquiry and hearing into chain supermarket milk prices in Vermont.The Commission initiated the new inquiry into retail milk prices based on the evidence presented with regard to the proposed Order’s preliminary findings about the retail margin for Vermont supermarket milk sales. The Commission had found in the proposed Order that the retail margin for chain supermarket milk sales in Vermont was substantial, and could absorb the Order’s proposed surcharge on the procurement cost of raw milk without any downstream increase in consumer prices.The evidence submitted during the hearing strongly contradicted the proposed Order’s findings. An expert witness for the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), the trade organization representing milk processors, testified that the retail margin was slimmer than found by the Commission. The President of the Vermont Grocer’s Association testified further that any regulatory increase in the procurement cost of milk, if not absorbed by the processor, would be passed on directly to consumers by retailers rather than absorbed in the margin.Based on this testimony, the Commission determined to open an inquiry into the pattern and resulting margins of Vermont chain supermarket milk prices. The Commission will attempt to resolve the difference between its findings and the testimony by the IDFA expert witness with regard to the existing margin for retail milk sales, and to clarify further the pricing dynamic between the procurement costing for raw milk established under federal law and operation of the downstream chain supermarket retail outlets.”The Commission has received a lot of good and very useful testimony during our hearing process,” commented Roger Allbee, Secretary of the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets and Chair of the Milk Commission. “We want to make sure that any regulation the Commission imposes does not distort the market or create competitive problems for in-state or out-of-state businesses and farmers, and we have scheduled a further hearing to promote this purpose.””The record we have developed also indicates the need to inquire further into the specific, additional issue of consumer milk prices. There are obvious, significant discrepancies in the current record about retail fluid milk prices and margins that must be resolved as a matter of the public interest,” continued Allbee.The Commission will hold both its hearing on retail milk prices and its hearing on the proposed disbursement process for the retail fluid milk premium on November 18, 2008. Formal notices for the two hearings will be issued not later than November 3, 2008.Current information on the Commission’s proposed Order to establish a fluid milk premium may be found at the Commission’s web page: http://www.vermontagriculture.com/milkcommission(link is external).###
The match, deemed unplayable after a series of pitch inspections by Norwegian referee Tom Hagen and the FIFA delegates, has been given a revised start time of 3pm on Saturday. But with more wintry weather expected in the next 24 hours, a second cancellation seems highly likely. Despite that, FIFA regulations require the hosts to attempt to stage postponed matches the following day and the Irish Football Association will try to salvage the fixture. Officials will reconvene at 10.30am on Saturday, with further meetings and pitch inspections due to take place. There are also problems looming regarding the Group F qualifier against Israel on Tuesday. Even if a game does take place on Saturday, the effect on the pitch is likely to be such that a second match inside four days will be a near impossibility. IFA head of communications Geoff Wilson said: “There has to be an attempt to play the game tomorrow because FIFA rules say every effort has to be made to play the game the day after postponement. “We’re looking to play the game tomorrow but we will have a briefing session at 10.30am and have another look at the pitch with the referee and take things from there. “We’re open to the elements here and I think if you look at the elements right now it probably doesn’t look very positive. That being said, stranger things have happened. “We’re on Plan B and there could be a Plan C but at the moment we are focused on getting the game on tomorrow. There is a real willingness on both federations to play. But according to the weather forecast it is due to be bad today and for parts of tomorrow. At the end of the day it might change, but we have to do everything in our power to put this game on.” Press Association Northern Ireland’s World Cup double-header was plunged into uncertainty after Friday night’s match against Russia was postponed due to heavy snow at Windsor Park.
Police, Public Service CommissionsThe National Assembly on Monday evening adopted the nominees of the Police and Public Service Commissions, paving the way for President David Granger to appoint the nominated Commissioners.Retired Assistant Police Commissioner, Paul Slowe is one of the nominees to the Police Service CommissionChairman of the Standing Committee on Appointments and Social Cohesion Minister, Dr George Norton, moved the motion for the adoption of the eleventh report of the Committee. That report was presented in the House in April.The report recommended retired Assistant Commissioners of Police, Paul Slowe, Clinton Conway, Vesta Adams and Claire Jarvis as nominees for the Police Service Commission.The nominations came from the Association of Former Members of the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Police Association.The life of the last Police Service Commission came to an end in September of 2017 and there have since been calls for its reconstitution. In fact, concerns were further raised after there were no promotions of senior officers last year.New members of the Police Service Commission have already been selected. It was in January of 2018, that Police Commissioner (acting) David Ramnarine had called for the body to be put in operation as soon as possible.Before the life of the last Police Service Commission ended back in September of 2017, President David Granger had ordered in July of that year, to put a hold on the promotion of senior ranks.Trade unionist Mortimer Livan has been nominated for the Public Service CommissionPublic Service CommissionMeanwhile, the House also adopted the Committees nominees for the Public Service Commission (PSC). Vincent Bowman and Mortimer Livan were put forward in the eighth report of the Committee which was published in March.The life of the Public Service Commission had expired in August 2017. Last year, the President had ordered a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the Commission which found serious breaches in the operations of the previous Commission.Previously, the non-appointment of the Commission had been blamed for instances of delays in the public service system. For instance, this was one reason cited when Regional Executive Officer (REO) of Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), Denis Jaikarran, appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) at the National Assembly.The Audit Office of Guyana had found inordinate numbers of contracted employees in the system. Providing an update on the situation, the PAC was informed that they managed to regularise 102 contracted persons in 2016. The regional authorities claimed that confirmation of the remaining 182 contracted employees is dependent on the PSC.“Before the Commission went out of commission, we were able to propose persons who were on contracted employment, be placed on the permanent establishment,” Jaikarran had said, adding that the remaining employees were employed last year.According to the report, “Amounts totalling $2.592 billion were expended on Employment Cost for 2016. According to the National Estimates, the regional administration had a staffing structure of 2165; however, the actual staff of the regional administration exceeded the authorised strength by sixty-four.”In response, the head of budget agency had indicated that the regional administration has already taken steps to move its employees over to the permanent establishment and this process is expected to be completed by the end of October 2017.It was recommended that the regional administration continue the process of moving staff over to the permanent establishment in order to minimise the number of staff employed on a contractual basis in keeping with circularised instructions.Last month, Granger had revealed that he planned to meet Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo in a short while, where appointments of persons to both of these Commissions would be included in the agenda. This is in keeping with the Constitution of Guyana. Since then, there has been no word on a date for the meeting and Granger is presently overseas. (Jarryl Bryan)