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Funds to aid dairy producers with water conservation

POSTED January 29, 2013 9:53 p.m.

Farmers and dairy producers within Stanislaus County can now apply for funds to implement water conservation and improvements, which may save a few local dairies.

Many local dairies are still struggling to remain in operation due to high feed costs and lost revenue in production since the crisis of 2009, which has exhausted equity and diminished production standards. Decreasing milk prices and increasing production costs have local dairymen digging into their pockets to find the funds needed to continue on.

“Although California dairy producers are paid some of the lowest prices in the nation, California dairy producers face high production costs and high regulatory costs,” said Executive Director of California’s Dairy Campaign Lynne McBride. “Every penny counts given record high input costs, but California dairy producers continue to be underpaid compared to other states.”

Dairy producers must also implement federal policies in order to stop environmental hazards, which significantly readjust costs. As a result, more than 100 dairies closed by 2012, surpassing the overwhelming number of dairies forced to close down in 2009. Closures also had a ripple effect that impacts local, regional and state economy, according to McBride.

In an effort to aid farmers with production and regulatory compliance costs, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service announced Friday that dairy producers east of the San Joaquin River in Merced and Stanislaus counties will have access to $5 million for water conservation and water quality improvements. All dairymen are encouraged to apply to receive a relief from the financial burden.

The Bay Delta Initiative, a water quality service created in 2011 to help  Central Valley farmers improve practices on their land through a multi-year process, provided the financial aid in an effort to support wildlife and improve water quality. Approved dairies will be able to implement procedures  to capture, store, measure and distribute manure nutrients safely and effectively.

“Any assistance in enabling dairy producers to conserve resources is important given the high cost of producing milk today,” McBride said.  “Any way that dairies can limit their costs and conserve water and other resources is critical during this challenging time.”

 

Interested farmers within Stanislaus County should visit the NRCS Service Center at 3800 Cornucopia Way, Suite E, Modesto, CA 95358, or call 491-9320. Applications should be submitted by Feb. 15 to be considered by the 2013 fiscal year.

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