It was a desperate call to relieve California's dairy crisis. Hundreds of valley farmers rallied Thursday morning at the state capitol.
Feed costs are up, but milk prices are down, and dairies are going under.
Farmers dressed and sounded the part. They “moo’d” and chanted about the price they’re paid for milk.
Valley dairy farmers want the Secretary of Agriculture to change California’s milk pricing system so farmers can get more from milk processors.
“We have been robbed, twenty million dollars a month, while our manufacturers, the processors have enjoyed record profits,” Barbara Martin said at the podium.
More than 40 dairies have filed bankruptcy or sold herds this year alone.
Gary Van Ryn, a 3rd generation Visalia dairyman is also hurting, and coordinated the rally to save the industry. “It was a unity of the dairy farmers to get together vent out feelings what's happening in our industry and calling out for help,” Van Ryn said after the rally.
Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross didn't greet the protestors. She released a statement saying, "our system is designed to provide market stability and we have to take a balanced approach."
Assemblyman David Valadao, also a farmer, was at the capitol steps but says the crisis likely won't end there. “She's holding back on the formulas. Formulas decide what dairymen get paid from the consumer's dollar and she needs to step up and put us in line with the rest of the country,” Valadao said.
Dairies have already sued the California Department of Agriculture, claiming it failed to properly calculate the price of milk.
The Department has put together a task force to study what needs to be done.
Ross didn’t tell farmers what they wanted to hear this time, and she turned them down a few times in the last year and a half.
Farmers plan to appeal to congress.