Opinion

April 17, 2013

LAURA KIDWELL: Dairying in California is costly

Thank you for publishing the pro and con essays on Assembly Bill 31 on April 6.

It is unfortunate that this type of "civil war" in the dairy industry is occurring. As a member and advocate of the dairy industry for more than 30 years, I have seen many farms in Merced and Stanislaus counties get picked off because they cannot keep up with the costs imposed on their operation. Although the cost of feed and low milk prices are to blame, I do have to mention that the cost to operate in this state also plays a huge role in the failure of dairy farms. As a general rule, no dairy will survive in this state unless they are milking at least 1,000-1,200 cows consistently; as a result, the disappearing act of the small family farm. Fortunately, some of these small farms have managed to expand enough to survive.

Back to the AB 31 article (specifically the "No" side), the problem I see, and would like to share, is that there are several dairies that have a direct financial interest in large cheese making operations in the valley. These dairies are expanding and doing so at a questionably rapid rate. So my question is, "Why?"

LAURA KIDWELL

Atwater

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