Agriculture

Dairy group offers second herd-retirement program

A Virginia-based dairy industry group is holding its second herd-retirement program this year in hopes of shrinking the nation's milk production.

This spring, Cooperatives Working Together helped dairy operators reduce their herds by 101,400 cows (about 1% of the nation's total). That was the equivalent of nearly 2 billion pounds of milk.

It was the largest response in the industry-funded program's six-year history.

Dairy farmers have been struggling with low prices, a collapse in the export market and reduced domestic consumption.

CWT officials expect continued interest in the program that overwhelmingly (80%) was used this year by dairy operators in the Southwest and West.

"Based on what we are hearing from producers and not just those in California we think we will get a good response," said Jim Tillison, CEO of the CWT.

Kerman dairy operator Brian Pacheco said that while he is not participating in the program he understands why some people are getting out of the business or trimming their herds.

"Right now you are either hoping that tomorrow is better than today or you are sending your cows to auction to stop the financial bleeding," Pacheco said.

As part of the CWT program, dairy farmers are compensated for the future milk production of their cows. In this round, the CWT will consider offers up to but not to exceed $5.25 per hundredweight.

Farmers also get the profit after their cows are sold to a processor.

The deadline to participate is July 24. Details: www.cwt.coop or call (888) 463-6298.

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