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Merced supervisors speak out for local dairy farmers

Merced supervisors speak out for local dairy farmers

Since January, California dairy families have lost more than $1 billion and are struggling to survive the worst economic downturn in their history, according to the California Dairy Campaign.


POSTED June 27, 2009 5:17 p.m.
The Merced County Board of Supervisors hope a resolution passed last week will get Washington, D.C., moo-ving forward to provide relief for troubled California dairy producers.
The unanimously approved resolution calls for an increase in the dairy support price to reflect current production costs, the implementation of fair tariffs on unregulated imported dairy solids, mandated market transparency, and the establishment of a milk inventory management program.
“Since January, California dairy families have lost more than $1 billion and are struggling to survive the worst economic downturn in their history,” said California Dairy Campaign Executive Director Kevin Abernathy. “We applaud the Merced County Board of Supervisors for taking action to address the growing dairy crisis that is having a ripple effect on businesses throughout California.
“We further commend the board for offering concrete solutions to end the crisis that has continued for so many months now,” Abernathy continued.
According to the California Dairy Commission, the U.S. Department of Agriculture dairy support program is currently based on the price of production from 30 years ago, while costs have risen substantially. Dairy producers are currently contending with a cost of production that is almost twice government support levels.
In the dairy-centric Central Valley, many counties are standing up and taking notice of the plight of dairy farmers. Kings County is already considering a resolution similar to the one adopted by Merced County, while Madera, San Joaquin, and Stanislaus Counties are in the process of agendizing similar resolutions as well, according to the California Dairy Commission.
“We’ve definitely had a lot of interest because I think local officials are realizing just how bad this dairy issue is,” said Lynne McBride with the California Dairy Commission.
Washington officials took action earlier this year to help dairy farmers who have seen a 50 percent drop in the value of milk in a year and a similar decline in the worth of dairy cows.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced April 1 that producers participating in the USDA’s Milk Income Loss Contract program would receive subsidies to help offset the low price of milk.
At the same time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that approximately 200 million pounds of nonfat dry milk would be transferred from the Commodity Credit Corporation to USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services for use in domestic feeding programs. The move was expected to help clear stockpiled inventory and give dry milk prices a chance to recover, but according to the California Dairy Commission, the government has not yet done enough to help local dairymen.
“We were really supportive of Secretary Vilsack’s decision to donate nonfat dried powdered milk, but we think significantly more needs to be done to have an impact,” McBride said.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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