Another California exodus: Dairy cows leave for greener pastures in Texas, Arizona as farms squeezed
Farmers here say the exodus is temporary and farmers in Texas and Arizona are expecting the long-term trend to continue.
California dairy farmers with land in the state have begun migrating to the Midwest, as many seek greener pastures in Texas and Arizona. On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown announced plans for three dairy farms in this Southern California region to receive a total of $20 million from the state of California over the next five years in order to create jobs.
According to the California Milk Marketing Board, Texas and Arizona — who are already seeing a decline in dairying in their states — will be the two states expected to benefit the most from California’s new investment program.
As of March, California had around 300 dairy farms remaining in the state, according to the California Dairy Commission. California is home to 11 dairy cooperatives and has more than 20 different dairying operations, according to the California Dairy Commission.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it was the highest number of dairy operations remaining in California in the United States in 2009.
Brown announced plans for the three new farms in March and said the move will create jobs and boost the agricultural economy.
But California’s new agricultural funding program, which is expected to receive about $5 billion in the next five years in economic development funding from the federal government, is unlikely to end up putting more jobs on farm land here in the Golden State.
Many California dairy farmers have been forced to move out of the state for several reasons, including the slow pace of government regulations on dairying in California, high cost of living, low wages at farm labor, and competition from cheaper milk from cheaper milk-producing states.
California now has more than 100,000 dairy cows in operation. Of those, about half are in California.
But those Californians who remain in the state are going out of the state to find greener pastures.
California’s drought has created a market for food products from other states as the state is experiencing the worst drought in 50 years.