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Milk Production In Central Valley Continues To Drop In 2017

June 21,2017-

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 6.59.21 AMMilk producers in the Central Valley reduced their output during the first four months of 2017, as did the whole state according to CDFA statistics.

Statewide, milk production on a year-to-date basis (through April), was 13.1 billion pounds, down from 13.5 billion pounds for the same four-month period in 2016 ,about a 3% decline.

In Tulare and Kings Counties, milk output is down as well with Kings County dairy operations this year though April producing 1.419 billion pounds, down from 1.470 billion pounds for the same period in 2016, about a 4 percent drop.

In Tulare County, the numbers show a decline from 3.779 billion pounds during the first 4 months of 2016 to 3.708 billion pounds  during the same period in 2017, a 2% drop.

For the whole year of 2016, Tulare County milk production was 11.04 billion pounds according to CDFA. That is down from 2015 when dairymen in the county produced 11.2 billion pounds.

For all of 2014, Tulare reached 11.5 billion pounds – a record year. But it has been downhill since.So there is a trend line and it appears to be down. If Tulare continues this year’s trend at a 2% decline, we could end up at 11 billion pounds, still the biggest production county in the USA and the most important industry in these parts.

In Kings County the top year was also 2014 at 4.42 billion pounds, compared to 4.27 billion pounds in 2016. If the 2017 trend continues in the county – we may be lower than that.

Kings County dairyman Joaquin Contente says he is “not surprised” by the numbers.”I look around and can’t see 20 to 25 of my dairy neighbors that used to be here”. Contente says instead, many of these medium to small operations are replaced by nut farms.

“The difference is the low milk margins.” Meanwhile,” nut margins stay high, raising the price of land beyond what milk margins can sustain.”As long as nut prices stay and milk is where it is – we will see the same trend.”

Contente reports “another one of my neighbors was sold off this week.” The Manuel Costa dairy was auctioned off by A&M Livestock Tuesday.

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