Feb 16, 2010 7:36 PM
Dairy farming is always a challenge, there's never an easy day if you are a dairy farmer," explained Betsy Karli, Dairy Program Representive for Glenn and Tehama Counties.
Dairy farms once a cash cow are now struggling to survive. In Glenn County, times are especially tough. Cory Kaiser's family has been in the business for 70 years and he's been involved for 24, up until last June when he was forced to shut down. "It just wasn't profitable, marketing, the environment stuff, just wasn't panning out as well as it used to," Kaiser said.
Kaiser was certainly not alone. According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, in 2009 a total of 109 dairies closed in the state. The struggling economy, higher feed costs, low milk prices and the multiple herd buyout programs contributed to the closures.
Kaiser Gallo is just one of 14 dairy farms to recently close in Glenn county but even the dairy farmers who have managed to survive say more challenges lie ahead. For example, new regulations involving the environment and air quality, which means more record keeping. "Some of them require certified people that cost a lot of money and it is hard to spread that cost in your business when there isn't much room for margin anyway," dairy farmer Pat Schager explained.
Farmers gathered at the Glenn County Farm Bureau Tuesday to address some of these issues and to keep farmers successful in the future. "You have to be efficient as you can and watch every penny you can. It is not easy, it is very difficult but it's something we love to do and that's why we're still doing it," Schager said.
Merced County had the highest number of closures with 29 dairies shut down last year, followed by Glenn County.
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