Calif. dairymen lost $882 million in 2012

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"Dairy farmers are telling me they're facing the worse economic situation since the Great Depression.”

That’s according to Democratic California Assemblyman Richard Pan, who has pledged to carry on the fight to change the state-regulated price of milk used in cheese-making. Lawmakers missed an important deadline last week in the pricing decision, according to Record Net.

While Assembly Bill 31 is still active, it now requires a two-thirds vote instead of a majority to send it to the state’s Senate.  

"There is interest by many legislators on both sides of the aisle to see a solution," he added. "They don't want to see, and I don't want to see, the demise of the dairy industry here in California."

See, “Milk pricing bill dies at session's end.”

Dairies in the nation’s top milk-producing state also don’t want to see the demise of their industry, but milk-production data released by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) shows that the state’s dairymen lost $882 million in 2012. Some believe that the losses were even higher, according to the Capital Press.

Tom Barcellos, a Porterville dairyman and president of Western United Dairymen, believes that the CDFA’s estimates of feed costs used to calculate the losses were shy of reality. The adjusted increases would bring the state’s losses to $932 million.

These numbers are on track with figures released earlier this year at the World Ag Expo by accounting firm Genske, Mulder & Co. According to the group, their average farm client in California lost $403,173 during the first nine months of 2012. Read, “2012 was a bad year in Calif., but apparently not as bad as 2009.”  

A trio of headaches, including recession, feed costs, low milk prices. These circumstances created a perfect storm, forcing nearly 400 dairies across the Golden State to close their doors for good, including 105 last year.

"It's going to continue to be difficult for people who have to buy all their feed. It can't continue the way it is," Barcellos warned.

Barcellos added that with a lot of the state’s aging dairy farmers missing a younger generation interested in inheriting their operations, more dairies will likely be forced to exit the industry.  Read more here.

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WI  |  June, 05, 2013 at 12:50 PM

Apparently the California model of dairy farming does not work anymore and they want the rest of us to feel sorry for them. They used to laugh at us in the Midwest, you don't need to grow your own crops just buy them, now who are the ones in trouble.

Northeast  |  June, 05, 2013 at 05:32 PM

For over 47 years we raised our own "top notch" feed for our average sized dairy, but we decided to sell the cows and instead sell our hay and grain to other farmers ,or on the open market ,because dairy has been a losing proposition since "Component Pricing",(A PROCESSOR'S DREAM and A DAIRYMAN'S NIGHTMARE ), went into effect in 2000 ! IF the" selling price" of the feed we were putting into our dairy cows and heifers were considered, for every CWT (100 pounds) of milk that the milk hauler picked up at $$$s below our true"COST of PRODUCTION", it was like throwing $$$ down into a big black hole ! Dairy farms of all kinds and all sizes , all across our country, are going out of business because of the way our farm milk price is controlled by the world's biggest cooperatives(monopolies) and world trade! Dairy farmers need to take back control of their co-ops and demand a different way to price "farm milk " ! If the " $$$ in the middle" was shared fairly , dairy farmers could prosper and consumers could benefit . Margin insurance and supply management, currently in the so-called FARM BILL are wanted by the "controllers" who will continue to profit from the use of imported milk protein concentrate (MPC) that is included in our US total milk supply and creating a surplus that US dairy farmers are being blamed for! The FOOD and DAIRY INDUSTRY is reaping the profits while Dairy Farmers ,(who do, or do not raise their own crops), continue to go out of business at an alarming rate ! The impact of ethanol must also be addressed ! Since our family no longer milks cows, who are we going to sell crops to, if dairies contnue to quit? Maybe China?--- (Credit Arden Tewksbury of Pro Ag for-"A Processors' Dream and A Dairyman's Nightmare")

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