"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."
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.