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California dairy producers struggling while Wisconsin industry grows

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A dairy cow on display
A dairy cow on display

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin’s top competitor in the dairy industry is going through some hard times.

California’s dairy producers are struggling with high feed prices and low milk prices. And matters have been made worse by what some call an unfair pricing policy in the Golden State.

Producer groups are suing California’s ag department, alleging that the gap between the state’s milk price and the federal Class Three order price is larger than it should be.

California overtook Wisconsin a number of years ago as the nation’s top milk producer – but the Badger State has been catching up.

In August, California made 43 percent more milk than Wisconsin did – but a year ago, that gap was much bigger, at 59 percent. Also, Wisconsin keeps pulling away from Number 2 California in cheese production.

At this week’s World Dairy Expo in Madison, milk and cheese producer John Fiscalini of Modesto California said he does not see the industry growing in his state anymore.

He tells the Brownfield Ag News Service that the Golden State has lost one-ninth of its 1,800 dairies over the last two years. And they’re getting milk prices which are $2 less per hundred pounds than the rest of the country.

Fiscalini also said California’s regulations make it hard for dairies to expand – and when a dairy sells out, more cows go to slaughter instead of to another herd. 

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