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Recruiters hope to take local dairy expertise out of state
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The shortage of milk is fueling a dozen states to actively recruit California dairies to leave the state and make a move to better business climes.

Representatives from Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, New Mexico, Montana, Arizona, Texas, Missouri, South Carolina, Wyoming, and South Dakota have been filling gatherings such as the World Ag Expo in Tulare to encourage California dairy farmers to move to their respective states.

“Other states have been doing this for quite a few years and every year there are 10 to 12 states at the Tulare Ag Expo encouraging our dairies to move,” said Michael Marsh, chief executive officer of Western Unified Dairymen, which represents more than 60 percent of California’s dairy producers.  “They want what big dairy operations bring to their economies and their inducement is: ‘We’re business friendly, so come here.’”

One of the main reasons dairies are leaving California is because they are going bankrupt, according to MPC; milk reimbursements to California producers are much lower than other states of federal areas.

According to a recent survey by, California’s business climate is not good for dairy farmers.  In fact, California ranked 50th worst state as having the most anti-business climate.

 “The biggest incentive to move is the promise of fewer regulations and that,” said Marsh, is a message that resonates in California, a state that is “a regulatory nightmare for farmers. There are regulations here that you don’t have in any other state or around the world.”

Not only do the recruiting states boast fewer regulations, they allow a speedy permitting process to get an incoming dairy up and running in weeks or months, as opposed to California, which takes years.

“In almost every other state the process of permitting and operating a dairy within established parameters is much easier,” said Jack Hamm, vice president of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau.

In California, there were 2,200 dairies in 2001, and about 500 have left the state since, which resulted in a 25 percent loss.  According to Stanislaus County Farm Bureau Governmental Affairs Director Tom Orvis, it is not unusual for other states to aggressively pursue California and even Stanislaus County dairies.