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Dairy Pricing Disparity Still Hot Topic
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Before a crowd of more than 50 dairy producers, California Assembly Member David Valadao, a candidate for U.S. Congress, called for state dairy pricing reforms during a California Dairy Campaign (CDC) meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 26 in Laton, outside Fresno.

"As a dairy farmer and former board member of CDC, Assembly Member Valadao deeply understands the crisis faced by California dairy producers because producer income is significantly below today's production costs," stated California Farmers Union (CFU) President Joaquin Contente of Hanford. "Dairies are closing at an alarming rate and he understands the widespread impact this crisis is having on our communities and is taking action to sustain dairy operations statewide."

"Assembly Member Valadao has been a champion for dairy producers calling on California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Secretary Karen Ross to address the egregious inequity in our California dairy pricing system," said CDC Executive Director Lynne McBride.

Since January of 2007, California dairy producers have been paid more than $800 million less than dairy producers in the surrounding states. In August dairy producers were paid $15.78 per cwt while the latest CDFA data indicates that the cost to produce milk is $18.09 per cwt leading to substantial income losses on operations statewide.

"The substantial gap between producer income and costs is causing dairies to close in record numbers," explained McBride. "One of the reasons for the increase in production costs is due to increased demand for corn spurred by corn ethanol production. Assembly Member Valadao passed state legislation to end state subsidies for corn ethanol production and we applauded his efforts."

Comprised of more than 1300 farmer and rancher members, CFU advocates policies to lawmakers at the state and national levels on behalf of its membership throughout California. The California Dairy Campaign (CDC), a member organization, is a grassroots organization of dairy farmers who are working to encourage lawmakers and the dairy industry to be more responsive to the needs of the family dairy farm in California. CFU is a state chapter of NFU, which represents more than 250,000 members nationwide. NFU works to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and their communities.