Editorial: Calif. milk pricing system needs 21st century overhaul

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“California farmers find themselves locked into a system based on the economic realities of the 1960s, not the 21st century.”

That’s according to an editorial published in the Los Angeles Times this week on the dilemma California dairymen find themselves in. 

In the last five years, dairy farmers were hit hard by 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. Rabobank released a report in March indicating the California dairies are now at a “pivotal point” for the future of the state’s industry. Read more.

Now, lawmakers are stepping in with two proposals to help. One bill would give the state’s dairy farmers a chance to potentially enter the federal milk marketing system. The other would bring the price paid by cheese-makers in line with the federal government's minimum.

However, there is no easy solution as politicians walk a tightrope between over-production and forcing dairies out of business.  

“[P]olicymakers need to step carefully to avoid inducing farmers to increase production far beyond the demand for milk or the processors' capacity to use it,” the Times’ Editorial Board wrote. “They should also ask why in the 21st century we're still relying on a decades-old regulatory system that causes more problems than it solves.”

Read, "California's dairy dilemma."

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