Posts Tagged: milk
A story about USDA milk production forecasts for 2012 and 2013 included commentary from Leslie "Bees" Butler, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics as UC Davis.
Rising feed prices have caused some producers to sell cows rather than bear the expense of feeding them. Another option is to slaughter cows. Dairies have been doing that a lot -- to the chagrin of glut-wary beef producers -- since 2009 when the all milk price dropped to as low as $11.30 per hundred pounds, the story said.
A strong dollar at the time made foreign goods cheaper and domestically produced goods more expensive, Butler told reporter Courtenay Edelhart. That dried up the export market for American milk and led to oversupply at home that still hasn't been entirely corrected, he said.
Landmark new rules adopted by the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board will require farmers to test ground water for nitrate contamination and report their fertilizer usage, according to the KTVU report.
The story mentioned that a recent UC Davis study showed 254,000 people in the Tulare Lake Basin and Salinas
Valley were at risk of drinking water contaminated with nitrates, much of which came from fertilizer.
A long excerpt from a recent UC online seminar for dairy operators on suicide prevention was used in a lengthy segment about the plight of California dairies on the California Report this morning. The story, by Fresno NPR reporter Sasha Khokha, noted that the Los Angeles Times reported in May that two dairymen have committed suicide as dairy industry profits crash. Currently, dairy operators earn about half what it costs them to produce milk.
Much of Khokha's story was pulled from an emotional interview with Point Reyes dairy operator Joey Mendoza, whose immigrant grandfather started the dairy nearly 100 years ago.
"It's sad, but it's something you have to do," Mendoza told the reporter, his voice cracking with despair. "There are guilt pains because of the heritage. Everybody worked so hard to build this thing and you're the one that has to terminate it and let it go. It's humiliating and you're not very proud of yourself to do something like this."
Mendoza has decided to participate in a herd retirement program that requires dairies to sell the entire herd for slaughter and stop milking cows for at least a year. The program is expected to take about 100,000 cows out of the national milking herd of 9 million, Khokha reported. Mendoza said he may try to open the dairy again one day as an organic operation.
The dire economic straits in which many California dairy operators find themselves have prompted UC Cooperative Extension to collaborate with other agencies to provide a suicide prevention online seminar, according to an article in Dairy Herd Management.
The webinar, held this morning, covered farmer stress, depression and suicide prevention. According to an article published in the Los Angeles Times late last month, two dairy operators have recently committed suicide. Low milk prices that have dairy farmers selling cows for hamburger meat and threatening to dump milk into sewers may be partly to blame.
Current milk prices are about half of what it costs California producers to feed and milk their herds, the Times article said. Every gallon sold in the supermarket represents a loss on the farm. The pain is being felt throughout the U.S., but it's especially severe in California, where1,800 dairies produce $7 billion worth of milk annually, more than one-fifth of the nation's supply.
The Dairy Herd Management article ends with links to additional resources, including a story in the May issue of the magazine, Recognize the Signs of Stress and Depression and a link to its Crisis Management Resource Center.
California's dairy operators are struggling with a bleak bottom line as the commodity price for milk has tumbled. According to a story over the weekend in the Fresno Bee, milk prices dropped 50 percent in the last six months, from about $20 for every 100 pounds to about $10. The overall cost to produce milk in California is estimated at $19 per 100 pounds, the story reported.
Bee ag reporter Robert Rodriguez spoke to UC Davis dairy specialist Leslie "Bees" Butler for his perspective on dairies' dismal numbers. He blamed the drop in milk value to dramatic changes in the export market. Australian producers are recovering from a recent drought that had boosted world milk price, the U.S. dollar is stronger and the global recession has reduced demand.
"The export market was booming, literally booming, expanding by 30% to 40%," Butler was quoted. "But all of a sudden that market has dried up."
Milk demand in the U.S. is also declining, Rodriguez wrote.
"And it's not like we are talking huge percentage points. But it does not take a lot to change dairy prices," Butler was quoted.