After tough year, state dairy farmers to be paid more for milk

For months, state dairy producers had urged the California Department of Food and Agriculture to raise prices paid for milk and dairy products.

And on Tuesday, the state agency agreed to raise prices by as much as 30 cents per hundredweight for certain dairy products. That's roughly 3 cents per gallon as there are about 12 gallons in one hundredweight, as milk is measured in the industry.

But farmers Wednesday said the new prices are still too low, calling the change "too little, too late."

State dairy producers were hard hit by last year's drought as farmers struggled to cope with skyrocketing feed costs.

Some dairies culled the number of cows by selling them, and others shut down their operations, according to the California Dairy Campaign, which represents farmers in the state.

They urged state agriculture officials at a December hearing to raise prices by $1 per hundredweight to bring prices closer to a federal milk pricing system.

“We welcome the increase granted by CDFA Secretary Karen Ross, but it falls short of the amount needed to bring our prices in line with federal order prices,” said Joe Augusto, president of the California Dairy Campaign, in a statement.

Prices for Class I milk, sold as fluid milk, will rise 5 cents per hundredweight. Class 2 and 3 milk -- often used in the production of yogurt and cheese -- will rise 10 cents. Class 4a and 4b milk -- used to make cheese and whey -- will rise 30 cents.


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