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California Is ‘Still A Great Place To Milk Cows’, Despite Price, Water, Other Problems
Even With High Prices In 2014, Don’t Expect A Wall Of Milk From California, Land O’Lakes Producer Says
Shell Beach, CA—Despite problems ranging from milk prices to ongoing drought, the state of California is “still a great place to milk cows,” according to Joey Fernandes, a dairy producer member of Land O’Lakes, Inc.
Speaking at last week’s ADPI Dairy Ingredient Seminar here, Fernandes noted that California is still a “big player in milk”; the state accounts for about 21 percent of US milk production.
But there aren’t a lot of players in California milk production, Fernandes noted. Last year, California’s 41.256 billion pounds of milk was produced by about 1,510 dairy farms. And despite having a reputation of having factory farms or large farms, the state’s dairy farms are all family farms.
What California is seeing, Fernandes said, is consolidation. Just a little over 500 dairies produce probably 60 percent to two-thirds of the state’s milk.
California does continue to grow its milk supply, but “not with growing the cow base,” Fernandes said. “We continue to bring the milk, with the same or less amount of cows.”
And it’s not that farms now are getting any larger, because that’s really difficult, he continued. What is happening is that the same owners are owning more of the farms.
Looking back, California had “so many, so many” advantages that led to the expansion of the
state’s milk production, Fernandes said. “A lot of those are gone today, but I don’t want to discount that California is still a great place to milk cows.”
While the high milk prices in 2014 have “just about healed me” from the economic problems of 2009 forward, Fernandes doesn’t -...more