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June 18, 2013 | By Kate Mather
State officials are investigating the death of an Ontario dairy worker crushed while moving cattle over the weekend. Winston Perez, 28, suffered severe internal injuries after he was "crushed between a gate and the fence by the cows" about 5 a.m. Saturday at Dick Dykstra Dairy, coroner's and state officials said. The Riverside man underwent surgery at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, but died in the intensive care later that day. Cal/OSHA spokesman Peter Melton noted state officials had no record of safety violations at the dairy.
June 9, 2013 | Ricardo Lopez
Dairy farmer Ron Koetsier's 1,200 cows produce roughly 90 tons of manure daily, and for the last three decades, he has tried unsuccessfully to turn the stinky dung into energy to power his 450-acre farm in Visalia. He installed a nearly $1-million renewable energy system in 1985 that used the methane from manure to create electricity for his farm. In 2002, he replaced that system with newer technology, but he hit a snag when air-quality standards called for expensive retrofits to reduce air pollution; he eventually shut down the system in 2009.
May 19, 2013 | By Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times
SACRAMENTO - California dairy farmers and cheese processors are fighting again over milk prices. It's not Grade A, homogenized, pasteurized milk that's at issue in the state Capitol. Rather, agriculture lobbyists are focused on the price of whey, a milk byproduct probably best known to consumers who've read the Mother Goose nursery rhyme about little Miss Muffet eating her "curds and whey. " Once thrown away as waste, whey has become a valuable commodity, left over from processing cheese and then used in hundreds of foods, including baby formula and protein powder.
April 9, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
Although the recession drove many businesses into bankruptcy, times have been particularly hard for the state's dairy farmers. Almost 400 California dairies have closed in the last five years - 105 in 2012 alone - plagued by soaring prices for feed and an antiquated regulatory system that keeps their prices artificially low, at least in the farmers' view. The right solution for the long term would be to scrap the current approach in favor of a market-based one, but there's little political will to take such a disruptive step.
April 3, 2013 | By Ricardo Lopez
A California legislator wants to require the state's prisons, schools and other public institutions to buy local agriculture products to support California farmers.  Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) recently introduced the Choose California Act, a bill that would require public institutions to buy California agriculture products if the price is within 5% of the lowest out-of-state competitor. Schools would be exempt from that rule and would be required to buy California-grown products only if they are cheaper.
March 30, 2013 | By Ricardo Lopez, Los Angeles Times
Other states have long poached California manufacturers and jobs. Now they're coming for the cows. Seizing on the plight of the state's dairy industry, which is beset by high feed costs and low milk prices, nearly a dozen states are courting Golden State dairy farmers. The pitch: cheaper farm land, lower taxes, fewer environmental regulations and higher prices for their milk. At the World Ag Expo, a behemoth trade show held in Tulare County last month, nine states had recruitment booths on the ground's Dairy Center.
February 26, 2013
Re “ Business owners get vocal on immigration ,” Feb. 23 Although this excellent article clearly demonstrated what a tough issue immigration policy is, it failed to address the hypocrisy of business owners like dairy farmer Joe Wright. Here's a staunch Republican who would do away with the food stamps program, school lunches and unemployment insurance. But he sure needs his low-wage Latino workforce, the very same low-wage families who qualify for food stamps and subsidized school lunch programs.
February 23, 2013 | By Alana Semuels
AVON PARK, Fla. -- A dairy operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There's always someone needed to herd and milk the cows, tend to sick animals and clean up after healthy ones. The work must be done in the heat of a Florida summer and the chill of the early morning hours. When the economy is strong, farmer Joe Wright says it's nearly impossible to fill jobs on a dairy. That's why he's a vocal supporter of immigration reform; he says he needs a steady supply of workers from overseas.
February 13, 2013 | By Ricardo Lopez
TULARE, Calif. -- The annual World Ag Expo held in Tulare opened its gates to thousands of visitors Tuesday and organizers expect the three-day event to draw about 100,000 visitors, pumping millions of dollars into the Central Valley county's economy. Billed as the largest agricultural exposition of its kind in the world, the event is part county fair and part trade show. The massive event draws farmers and others interested in the latest cost-saving technologies or new agricultural practices.  Vendors brought massive tractors, work trucks, tomato harvesters and all sorts of gadgets to the sprawling 2.6 million square feet of exhibiting space.  "Not only do buyers and sellers come together at World Ag Expo to do business, but agricultural producers also attend the show to expand their knowledge of agricultural issues, production methods and international trade," said Jerry Sinift, the International Agri-Center's chief executive officer.   One thing, however, was clear at the expo: Dairy is king.
January 23, 2013 | By Ricardo Lopez
For months, state dairy producers had urged the California Department of Food and Agriculture to raise prices paid for milk and dairy products. And on Tuesday, the state agency agreed to raise prices by as much as 30 cents per hundredweight for certain dairy products. That's roughly 3 cents per gallon as there are about 12 gallons in one hundredweight, as milk is measured in the industry. But farmers Wednesday said the new prices are still too low, calling the change "too little, too late.
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