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States Dairy Farmers Seek Financial Relief

California Dairy Campaign (CDC) President Joe Augusto commended members of Congress on Thursday for signing onto a bipartisan, bicameral letter calling on United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack to provide relief to dairy farmers who have been struggling due to low milk prices.

“We thank California Senator Barbara Boxer and California Representative Jim Costa, D-16 for signing onto the congressional letter calling for USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to provide immediate relief to dairy farmers nationwide,” stated Augusto.

The letter signed by 27 Senators and 34 Representatives called for USDA to take any and all actions available in order to make an immediate market injection and offer financial assistance that will directly support U.S. dairy farmers equally.

“We continue to see dairies close across our state at an alarming rate,” explained CDC Executive Director Lynne McBride. “It is critical that Congress and USDA work together to provide relief to dairy farm families or more dairies will go out of operation,” she warned.

California Dairy Campaign joined a nationwide effort that included National Farmers Union and dairy farm organizations and cooperatives from across the country to call on Congress to urge USDA to provide relief to dairy farmers.

In California milk production has been in decline for more than 18 months and dairies across the state continue to close. California dairy producers are paid some of the lowest mailbox prices in the country and have been hit hard by the drop in milk prices that began in December of 2014. According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), the average cost of production in California totaled $18.44 per hundredweight (cwt) in the first quarter of 2016 while the mailbox price or net price paid to dairy farmers totaled $13.61 per cwt in March of 2016.

“When dairies close and milk production declines, it has a ripple effect on the local, regional and state economy,” explained Augusto. “It is critical that immediate action is taken to provide relief to dairy farmers to prevent more dairies from closing their doors.”

The California dairy industry generates $25 billion in sales annually and 189,000 jobs.

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. CDC is a member organization of California Farmers Union (CFU) which is a state chapter of National Farmers Union (NFU). NFU represents more than 200,000 members nationwide. NFU works to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers, fishermen and their communities.