California's dairy industry is in danger of dwindling away and farmers are calling for action. Thursday hundreds of dairymen rallied at the Lucio Hay Company in Tulare County.
California is the leading milk producer in the country, yet milk prices here are the lowest in the country. This has forced many Valley farmers to sell or slaughter their herds, even file for bankruptcy. And some fear if nothing is done, the industry could dry up altogether.
Barbara Martin is a third generation dairy farmer in Lemoore.
Martin says, "We're not letting up. Secretary Karen Ross needs to stand up and protect this industry."
She is in deep with creditors and on the brink of bankruptcy.
"We're in dire straights, this is the worst that we have ever seen, Our feed prices our record highs. My feed bill alone this month was 13 thousand dollars more than my feed bill last month," says Martin.
Dairy farmer Jim Wilson says, "We're all going broke, if you milk cows in the state of California, you're going broke."
Farmers say California's weak milk prices are to blame.
Wilson says, "The problem with California is our two dollars behind the rest of the nation. As far as dollar values, California dairymen are being robbed about a million dollars a day out of their milk checks."
The group says they are tired of being ripped off. They want a fair price for their product and are demanding Secretary Karen Ross make that change.
Mark Lucio runs a hay lot. He says this situation isn't just crippling the dairy industry.
Mark Lucio, owner of Lucio Hay Company, says, "Everything based especially in the central valley is based around dairies. I mean 1600 statewide dairies create 440,000 jobs here. When you go out there and you do lot of money and your customer is a dairy farmer, we go as they go."
California Department of Agriculture Secretary, Karen Ross has recognized the problem and formed a Dairy Task Force to find a long term solution. But farmers say something needs to be done now, before any more dairymen are forced out of business.
The protestors will take their fight once again to Sacramento, and will rally in front of the State Capitol Friday, October 18th.