Drought, high feed costs, urban encroachment and increasing regulatory pressure are high on the list of reasons why some dairies in the West are searching for greener pastures elsewhere in the country. At the same time, the jobs and economic development those dairies could bring to struggling, rural communities make them attractive recruits for Midwestern states.
The state of Kansas has created www.dairyinkansas.com, a website devoted specifically to those recruiting efforts. The state"s wide-open spaces and ample feed supplies are welcome changes to transplanted New Mexico dairyman T.J. Curtis. He manages Forget-Me-Not Farms, a 7,000-cow dairy now located near Cimarron, Kan. Read more about his Kansas experience here.
Harvest Public Media also recently chronicled the relocation experience of two former California dairies. The authors noted a full quarter of California"s dairy farms have either shut down or relocated since 2007. Among them is DeHoog Dairy Farm, a 500-cow facility now located near Seward in eastern Nebraska. Owner Marty DeHoog grew up dairying in California"s Chino Valley, once a regional dairy mecca that housed more than 1 million cows on the outskirts of Los Angeles in the 1980s.
DeHoog says urban development has crowded all but a few remaining Chino Valley dairies out. He shopped around in Idaho, Texas and Colorado before choosing Nebraska in 2013. His story can be viewed here.
Californian Brian Azevedo was recruited by the South Dakota Department of Agriculture. The young dairyman plans to vacate a rented northern California dairy near Merced this spring, striking out to start dairying on a 117-acre farm he has purchased in South Dakota. Learn more about his story here.