The US drought and high corn prices are devastating California’s $8 billion dairy industry to the point where farmers can’t afford to feed their cows, and despondent dairymen are calling suicide hotlines, reports Stacy Finz at the San Francisco Chronicle. Industry experts estimate that by year’s end California, the largest dairy state in the nation, will have lost more than 100 dairies to bankruptcies, foreclosures and sales. Milk cows are being slaughtered at the fastest rate in more than 25 years because farmers need to save on corn costs. According to a California dairy trade group, three dairy farmers have committed suicide since 2009, despairing over losing their family’s dairies. “I’ve never seen it as dire as it is now,” said dairyman Frank Mendonsa. “… it’s not just losing our jobs that is driving the desperation. We’re losing our houses, in some cases the same houses that our grandparents lived in, and we’re losing our entire identities.” Dairymen took out loans in 2009, when the federal government’s mandate to grow corn for fuel ethanol sent grain prices soaring. Now, they can’t pay the loans, nor purchase feed.
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California expected to lose 100 dairy farms. Stacy Finz . The nation’s drought and high corn prices are devastating California’s $8 billion dairy industry to the point where farmers can’t afford to feed their cows – and their professional trade organization has been regularly referring despondent dairymen to suicide hotlines. San Francisco Chronicle http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Calif-expected-to-lose-100-dairy-farms-3946897.php