Truce in California’s milk price war

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Call it a truce or a compromise, but a new proposal between California’s dairy farmers and cheese-makers could help farmers through an economic crunch that has lingered for nearly five years.

According to The Modest Bee, the proposal has been written into state legislation. It calls for increases in the minimum price of milk used to manufacture cheese and in the cap on the value of whey in the state’s minimum pricing formula for Class 4b.

"We are extremely pleased with the hard work that all have put in to help our family dairies," said Gary Conover, government relations director for Western United Dairymen in Modesto, in a news release. "Although we have already lost hundreds of dairy farms in California, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for those that are still fighting to stay in business."

Last year, economic difficulties forced more than 100 California dairies out of the business.  

In the compromise, cheese-makers will pay an extra 46 cents per hundredweight. However, it is a far cry from what Western United Dairymen and its allies originally sought. Processors point that while they are willing to help out dairy farmers, they aren’t willing to put themselves at a disadvantage with other dairy states.

"There needs to be a balance between producer prices and what the market can bear in terms of the product we manufacture and the market for those products," said Rachel Kaldor, executive director of the Dairy Institute of California, a Sacramento-based processor group. "In order for us to be able to stay in business, we need to be able to buy milk at a price that allows us to do that."

Read, “Dairy farmers, cheese makers compromise on milk, whey prices.”

In June, the California Department of Food and Agriculture granted a temporary six-month price adjustment for all classes of milk, though even Secretary Karen Ross admitted that the current, “antiquated” system is unsustainable. Click here for more.

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E. Demerath    
Strathmore, CA  |  July, 30, 2013 at 07:27 AM

Will it be retroactive? In the spirit of cooperation with my bank our family farm is now listed for sale along with the cows, fifty years of my dad's life and my husband and my productive years. The bank needs everything, retains, the giant goldfish in the water trough that I planted with my son on his thirteenth birthday, the capital retains held by the coop for us, and all the things we spent all these years agonizing over how we would pay for them. We signed the note and like idiots asked our parents to gurantee it. No one knew it would be so bad for so long. I am embarrassed over what I have become and all the people that will be hurt. I have long been a cheerleader for this industry but no more. Look in your markets' dairy cases - most of it was produced at a loss to some family. As a person of faith I know that there will be good from this but this valley almost more than we can bear to walk through. Hello? CARE? It's wierd, this busines that we have fought for is like an animal hit on the road writhing after a critical impact , everyone shakes their head and feels badly that they have to look at it and the bank will be the hero and put it out of its misery. We are just another stack of papers on the bad list. The bank and the Coop don't need to visit the elderly parents and watch them worry about how to pay for their medicines after freely donating to worthy causes and people their whole lives. Sorry for the ramble, thanks for the forum. I know - it's just business . . . till it's not.

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