Dairy Farmers Facing Tough Challenges

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SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY–

Dairy farming isn’t what it used to be.

“It’s pretty frustrating,” said John Kisst, owner of Kisst Dairies — a farm of over 1,500 cows.

Kisst says he’s losing money, not making it.

“Last year was pretty devastating. A dairy like ours lost in the seven figures,” said Kisst.

Since milk prices are regulated, Kisst says the costly decisions are out of his control. Just this week, the state agriculture secretary reduced a temporary emergency increase from 25 cents to 12 1/2 cents per 11 1/2 gallons of milk.

“It’s pretty sad when you do everything right [and] the best you hope to do sometimes is break even,” said Kisst.

To stay in business, Kisst has had to begin growing corn and other crops to help feed his cows and to pay the bills.

“If you are diversified, you can take from one pocket and then put into the other pocket and try to survive refinance things. We have been around awhile, we are pretty strong. I don’t mind working for nothing, but I don’t wan’t to pay to go to work,” said Kisst.

For now, dairy farmers say they will work at passing AB31, a bill that would help them get a fair amount of money for the milk they produce.

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