Cost of Milk Great for Consumers, Expensive for Farmers

DENAIR -- The price of a gallon of milk may be a welcome sight for consumers in California, but some dairy farmers say those low prices are driving some of them out of business.

"I'm seeing roughly every week, every several weeks another dairy sell out and go out of business," Ray-Lin Dairy manager Ray Prock said.

According to Western United Dairymen, about 75 dairy farms closed down in this state alone within the last year -- including five in San Joaquin County and six in Stanislaus County.

Western United Dairymen CEO Anja Raudaubaugh says part of the problem is the cost of a gallon of milk.

"Current dairy prices are pretty abysmal," Raudaubaugh said. "We’ve also been in a year over year over year of production decline in dairy."

State rules have driven up production costs.

"Milk prices, we cannot pass on any of our costs of production to the consumer. It is regulated at this time by the state," Raudaubaugh said.

Farmers like Prock want reasonable regulations.

"We all have the same goal, we want our families live on the dairies, we live in the communities, we want to protect our environment but we need to work together as a team," Prock said.

Prock says he's had to weigh out costs to keep his business financially solvent.

"Bringing more family members on, not going out and building projects and not doing those kinds of things," he said.

Three of the largest milk cooperatives in California plan to join the California Federal Milk Marketing Order, which, they say, will put California farmers on a more level playing field with the rest of America's dairy industry.

That could happen in November.

But for Prock, help starts with your next grocery store visit.

"The best solution to help farmers like myself is just keep driving milk," he said. "Keep eating dairy products."