California dairy farmers ask Vilsack for help

Milk prices are so low, dairy farms are culling their herds.
Milk prices are so low, dairy farms are culling their herds.
Dairy farmers in California pleaded their case to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack earlier this week, as he swung through the state on part of his rural listening tour.

The low price of milk has been hurting dairy farmers all across the country.

"Right now, we're surviving on equity. If the price doesn't come up and stay up, the next time there won't be any equity to borrow against," said Linda Lopes of Lorinda Dairy of Turlock, according to a report from News 10 KXTV. "Businesses will be gone, it'll be the end of the dairy industry in California."

Earlier this month, the presidents of 12 farm bureaus in Northeastern states sent a letter to Vilsack requesting an overhaul to the system that sets milk prices.

"Farmers in all commodities are facing unprecedented challenges from the collapse of the global economy and weather conditions. The dairy industry in the Northeast is particularly hard-hit," the letter said, according to American Agriculturalist.

The price farmers receive for their milk has fallen dramatically 41 percent over the past year to $11.30 per hundredweight. It costs farmers about $18 per hundredweight to produce milk.

Northeastern politicians have said the rural economies in those states face collapse, with a ripple effect on connected industries such as farm equipment dealers.