Bye, Bye California — This Time It’s Dairy Farms

A front page story in today’s Los Angeles Times informs us that — as the subheading puts it — “Struggling California dairies consider moving out of state.” Actually, they are doing more than “considerring.” The figures tell the story.

“California has been steadily losing dairies in the last decade. In 2003, more than 2000 dairies operated in California. That figure dropped to 1563 in 2012, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.”

Running a dairy farm in California has grown more difficult and more costly. And did we mention the more burdensome California environmental and other regulations?

Bottom line: California dairymen are heading for other states, and the Governor of South Dakota is in town, saying “y’all come” to them. The reason the outmigration of dairy farms is a trickle rather than a river, is that it’s a capital intensive process, and after struggling in California many dairymen don’t have the kind of money such a move requires. Bummer.

Once upon a time Southern California was dotted withn so-called cash-and-carry dairies that kept cows on the premises and sold milk at retail. No more. They were all zoned out of existence or their land was taken by eminent domain — see e.g. Orange County Flood Control Dist. v. Sunny Crest Dairy, 77 Cal.App.3d 742 (1978). Now it’s the turn of the large commercial dairies.

To get the L.A. times story, read Ricardo Lopez, No Longer a Cash Cow, L.A. Times, March 30, 2013, at p. A1 — click here