October 25, 2016

Will California Always Be The Dairy Leader? [VIDEO]

 |  By: Anna-Lisa Laca

For more than a decade, California has been the nation’s leading milk producer. Could that change in the future?

Industry experts and farmers tend to agree that California is in danger of becoming a milk-deficit state in the future. The most recent milk production report from USDA shows California maintaining its current lead, but states like Idaho and Kansas are booming.

Earlier this month at World Dairy Expo, Rabobank economist Tom Bailey predicted that over the next decade California could lose her title as Wisconsin moves in as the largest producer of milk in the U.S. Some California’s dairy farmers agree with this analysis.

 “I think we’re going to turn the corner soon in California to where we’re going to be short of milk,” says Simon Vander Woude a dairy farmer from Merced, California.

Vander Woude says the drop in production isn’t because dairies are consolidating in the Golden State. He says farmers who are closing their dairies are exiting the business entirely.

“A lot of them got out and planted almond trees, or just got out [of farming] altogether,” he says. “If the next generation wasn’t interested, many of the guys in their 60s said, ‘That’s ok, I’m done.’”