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Equitable Dairy Farm Prices Sought By State CDC Leaders

California Dairy Campaign (CDC) Executive Director Lynne McBride testified Monday before the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) calling for an increase in prices paid to dairy farmers so that they are closer to prices paid in other states. CDC joined Milk Producers Council and Western United Dairymen in calling for an increase in the 4b cheese milk price to reflect the value received in the federal milk marketing order system and the proposal was supported by all the state’s major dairy cooperatives including California Dairies, Inc., Dairy Farmers of America and Land O’Lakes.

“Over the last ten years more than 600 dairies in California went out of operation. We believe a significant reason for the decline in the number of dairies in California is due to the fact that dairy producers in our state are paid less than dairy producers in the federal milk marketing order (FMMO) system,” CDC Executive Director McBride testified.

In 2015, 32 dairies closed across the state and currently 1438 dairies remain in operation.

“For years, our state has produced more than 20 percent of the nation’s milk, but for the first time in recent memory California milk production has dropped below 20 percent,” McBride stated.

Milk production has declined each month for the last 15 months in the state.

“Our dairy producer members continue to question their future in California due to the fact that milk prices in our state are routinely some of the lowest of any major milk producing state in the nation,” McBride added.

According to the latest Statewide Cost Comparison Summary from the fourth quarter of 2015, the average cost to produce milk in California totaled $19.74 per cwt while prices paid to dairy producers are approximately $13 per cwt leading to mounting losses for dairies across the state.

“We believe adoption of our proposal is critical so that dairy producer prices are more equitable for California dairy producers who have continued to lose substantial income,” McBride said. “We believe the only long-term way to restore equity to dairy producer pricing is by joining the federal milk marketing order system.”

The California Dairy Campaign (CDC) is a grassroots organization of dairy farmers who are working to encourage lawmakers and the dairy industry to be more responsive to the needs of the family dairy farm in California. The CDC is a member organization of the California Farmers Union (CFU), a state chapter of National Farmers Union, which represents more than 250,000 farmers nationwide.