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.
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.