Published: Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 4:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 25, 2013 at 7:34 p.m.
Milk price hike no help, group says
Dairy farmers will receive little help from a recent increase in state minimum prices, a farm group said last week.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture, after hearing from farmers struggling with high feed costs, decided last week to slightly increase the minimum milk prices that processors must pay from February through May.
The increases average about 25 cents per
100 pounds of milk, which is equal to about 11.6 gallons. The change fell short of the $1 urged by the California Dairy Campaign, a farmer group based in Turlock.
Farmers have dealt for four years with milk prices that often fall below production costs, especially the cost of feed corn.
The Dairy Institute of California, which represents processors, acknowledged the farm troubles but said the industry must stay competitive on the world market.
Almond growers wary about growth
The state’s almond growers are wondering whether the growth in their industry can be sustained by increasing demand from overseas.
“Everybody in the industry is continually asking: Are we in a bubble or is this a change of economies?” said Chuck Nichols, who farms more than 1,000 acres of almonds and pistachios in Tulare and Kings counties. “We don’t know the answer to that.”
The state’s growers, who produce about 80 percent of the global almond supply, in 2011 saw their crop become the state’s second-most valuable commodity after dairy.
Shipments have more than doubled over the past 10 years, according to the California Almond Board. During the 2011-2012 crop year, California farmers brought in $3.9 billion in revenue.
Almonds also became the top export, outpacing dairy and wine, mostly due to increased demand from Asia and a weak dollar, almond producers say.
Beef ranchers expect export record
The nation’s beef ranchers are looking forward to another record year of exports.
The U.S. Meat Export Federation is predicting beef exports will reach $6.2 billion this year, an increase of 13 percent from 2012. Even with the nation’s worst drought in a half-century, such exports still reached a record $5.5 billion last year, based on preliminary estimates.
Mexico is the top destination by volume for U.S. beef exports. But the federation predicts the best opportunities for growth will be in Japan and Hong Kong.
California beef amounts to about 5 percent of the national total. The California Farm Bureau Federation says the state’s top beef export destinations are Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea.
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