The Milk Market Is Declining in California

Another California exodus: Dairy cows leave for greener pastures in Texas, Arizona as farms squeezed

In April, when John Leland, a dairy farmer from the rural Central Valley town of Marengo, went to the local feed store to buy some milk, he found a lot of milk.

There was a line of cars on the lot and a couple of pickup trucks parked there as well. As Leland got a cup, he saw a pickup truck parked on the other side of the road.

“So that’s my son in the other truck. He’s going to go to school in Texas,” Leland said.

“All right, that’s fine,” the man behind the counter told him. “We’re doing well.”

“But he’s going to come to live with us,” Leland warned. “I won’t be able to take care of him.”

Leland told the man that he could take care of the son, who was about 18 months old, for $3.50 a day. The man agreed, and two days later, the family packed up the few possessions they’d brought with them, and took the boy into Texas with them.

There could be only one reason for that: dairy’s decline in California.

While there may be a lot of milk in California this year, a lot of that milk will be going to feed cattle in Arizona and Texas to be milked again in Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Oklahoma.

About 80 percent of California’s dairy production will be for cows in other states rather than for the Golden State

After peaking in 2013, California’s milk market has shrunk, from 5.1 billion pounds of milk sold last year to a little more than 3 billion in two years.

California’s dairy industry, with the exception of a small handful of small farms, has been disappearing. The industry’s

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