If dairy producers don't start getting paid more, the dairy industry in Tulare County could die out, local dairy owners told the Visalia Times-Delta. A hearing with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) on May 31 and June 1 will determine if the price of whey should go up.

Whey makes up about 40 percent of California dairy production. California dairies petitioned the CDFA, which sets milk prices, to raise the price of whey so that it is comparable to the Federal Order that many other states use, said Cornell Kasbergen, owner of Rancho Teresita Dairy in Tulare.

The CDFA will have 62 days to announce its determination after the hearings, although Kasbergen said in the past the department has not ruled in favor of dairy farmers.

"[The CDFA] has not been very sympathetic to dairy producers, they're more sympathetic to processors," Kasbergen said. "But I think now we're at a crossroads."

On the other side of the hearing, the dairy processors are saying that, if whey prices rise, cheese processing facilities across the state will close down, said Bill Scheik, economist for the Dairy Institute of California, which is representing milk processors at the hearing.


—From the Visalia Times-Delta (Click here to read the full article.)