Last week, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) announced it would extend temporary price relief for the state's dairy farmers through next June. Read “California extends temporary milk price relief…again.”
But no permanent changes to the state's milk-pricing structure are planned.
Dairy producers had wanted the CDFA to permanently raise the Class 4b price to better represent the value of whey.
"There are a lot of things I would like to do, but I am bound by state statutes and I have a lot of interests that I have to balance," said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross.
Now the state’s dairy producers are left wondering, “what now?”
The Hanford (Calif.) Sentinel reports the many in the dairy industry are left discouraged by the decision. Last year, more than 100 dairies in the state went out of business, and many think that something needs to be done to prevent more dairies from joining them.
The market is improving, but not fast enough to make up for past losses. Instead of leaving it up to the CDFA, some are ready to take matters into their own hands.
“We need a more active process to get to a solution,” Dino Giacomazzi, Kings County Farm Bureau president and a Hanford, Calif., dairy operator said. “The producers and the processors are ultimately the ones that are going to have to figure this out.”
Some, like David Lemstra, who operates a Corcoran dairy with a 2,400-head dairy herd, believe that joining a national pricing system run by the USDA could be the answer.
“It’s the next best mousetrap,” Lemstra said. “It could be better than what we have currently, but I don’t know if it’s the answer. We’ve created in California a broken system.”