Calif. dairy task force strives to improve industry’s outlook

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A perfect storm is brewing for California’s dairy industry and a new task force hopes to evaluate the industry’s future and look for a more sustainable marketplace. Thirty-two of the state’s dairy farmers, cooperatives and processors have been asked to serve on the task force, according to Central Valley Business Times.  

The need couldn't be more pressing. Moderate milk prices have been unable to keep up with soaring feed prices, forcing many California dairy farmers to leave the industry.

“People are exiting this business in droves,” Tulare County, Calif., dairy farmer and Western United Dairymen president Tom Barcellos said.  “I would say catastrophic just about describes the situation.”

The situation is so bleak that at least one dairy cooperative has launched a crisis hotline for dairy farmers and their families. Read more here.

California Agricultural Secretary Karen Ross explained that the current regulatory and pricing system needs to be changed.

“All sectors of the industry need to collaborate and develop reforms that can bring new markets and new stability to the marketplace,” she said.  

Check out more from the Central Valley Business Times report here.

The USDA’s latest Agricultural Prices report showed a slight improvement of the milk-feed ratio, a rough measure of dairy profitability. The increase is tied to a higher milk price, but even that 90-cent price boost won’t help farmers stay ahead of rising feed costs.  Click here to read the report.

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California  |  September, 07, 2012 at 08:35 AM

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the Californa system except for the stuborn unwillingness of Secretary Karen Ross to adjust the California milk prices to be in a reasonable relationship with the comparible prices in the Federal Orders as the Secretary is mandated by California law to do. The discount in the California price enforced by Secretary Ross's policies has totalled $590 MILLION dollars since 2010. That is money that has gone directly into the pockets of California's cheesemakers. That amounts to nearly $400,000 for a 1000 cow dairy. That is why the Secretary is being sued. Appointing a Task Force instead of using her authority to fix the problem is a stunning example of either malicious animous toward producers or incompetance.

Mi  |  September, 07, 2012 at 09:54 PM

Im getting starved out in Michigan and I have snow over my land four months out of the year , I'm always reading about increases in milk from california. Maybe you guys should ease up a little on production and help us all out

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