High Cost of Corn Hits Dairy Farmers
12/01/06 (KFSN) -- Dairy farmers in the South Valley are getting hit with high corn costs, especially now that there's a different use for it in the Valley.
Dairy farmers in the South Valley are complaining about the record high cost of corn, used to feed their cows. Debora Bacon at the U.C. Cooperative Extension says financially, it's hitting dairy farmers hard.
"I know that the prices are much higher right now for corn, and milk prices are unfortunately are very low," Bacon said.
This Tulare County farmer Pete Tiemersma is one of those who's feeling the pinch.
"I mean for me just on corn alone, my bill has increased $15,000 a month," said Tiemersma.
Dairy farmers use corn as feed for their cows but corn is also used to produce ethanol and that's main thing driving record prices.
A facility in Goshen is one of two ethanol plants in California. The second, Pacific Ethanol, is in Madera. They just started producing ethanol three weeks ago.
Pacific Ethanol gets 95% of their corn, or 36,000 tons a month, from the midwest, not from California.
"Corn typically in the past hasn't been their best return, but potentially with this new ethanol business, corn may be one of the crops that they grow instead of other crops," said Thomas Russell of Pacific Ethanol.
"Uh, corn, every feed product out there has increased because corn is driving the feed market right now," Tiemersma said.
Officials at Pacific Ethanol hope the increased demand for corn may influence farmers in the Valley to grow more corn. In the meantime, Tiemersma says he's doing everything he can to cut down on his corn usage, something he calls a national phenomenon. He says if prices continue to rise, we could see less dairy farms next year.
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