Comments: An apparent paradox

It comes down to the fact that in California, all milk is controlled by the state. "Got Milk" is a catchy phrase, and created by the state. I am not sure on the specifics, but "Real California Cheese" is another one their slogans. Check out Real California Cheese.

Basically, if you sell dairy products in the state, you have to pay them a fee for joint advertising costs. You can't advertise on your own. Have you ever seen an ad for Rockview farms or Adhor farms, or any other brand of milk in California?

But remember, it's for the children, to make sure everyone drinks milk for healthy bones!

[Notes: 1)Rockview farms is from South Gate, where I live. 2) My family does business with them by selling them hay in Nevada. ]

Posted by Bill at August 21, 2005 07:35 AM

I had no idea CA was a big dairy state! I only think of northern and central/eastern states as such. Go figure.

Posted by Jay at August 21, 2005 09:01 AM

well, I have seen many, many Producers Dairy commercials in Fresno, even recently, but certainly fewer now than before.

What a freaking racket.

Posted by caltechgirl at August 21, 2005 11:07 AM

Remember, "Happy cows come from California".

Most CA dairies are big, industrial sized operations, on the order of several thousand head per dairy. Yet, they are mostly privately owned (so far as I know). So you have less of the population running the dairy, per cow, than we do back east. Also, we tend to keep them out in the boonies of the Central Valley, or in places like Chino (though that is almost completely nondairy now). The dairymen's real money doesn't come from selling dairy product, it comes from selling the land the dairy was on, when homes are going to be built on it. Then they move further out, and repeat.

The limiting factor in this is the distance and time to transport raw milk to the processing facilities (usually where the dairy started 50 years ago or whenever). In Rockview's case, the dairy is in southern Nevada ( 3 milking barns, each 2500 milking head or so), just under 300 miles from their processing plant in South Gate. They send 2 milk trucks every 12 hours from NV to CA. Their milk trucks are not refrigerated, they rely on the thermal insulation of the container to keep the milk cold. I think it goes into the truck at 38 degrees, and when the trip is finished, it's up to 42. Of course, in summer this means they have to time their trips just right.

But even though their cows are in NV, they still get to pay the CA "Happy Cow" tax.

Posted by Bill at August 21, 2005 11:28 AM

I believe we're the largest producer of 'fluid milk' in the nation. At least according to what I read we are. We're very much an ag state, as much as some of my east coast friends refuse to believe it's not one big Los Angeles/San Francisco :) I have such a tour planned for them!

Here's a few 'Ca Milk Cartel" links




Posted by Ith at August 21, 2005 12:47 PM

How much is milk in CA? I think it's $1.50/gallon on sale here in NY.

Posted by Marie at August 22, 2005 07:51 AM

Until recently, milk prices were regulated based on the distance from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The grocery stores also gauge on milk. Most stores charge less to buy two gallons of milk. You can also find cheaper milk at non-grocery stores if it is worth your time. The little corner market used to charge less for a single gallon than the big grocery stores.

And the "happy cows" is bull. The best tasting cheese and milk comes from Wisconsin.

Posted by TDM at August 22, 2005 05:14 PM

A couple of things:

1.) Gas probably factors into the cost of milk in CA. As does the increased costs from CA's unique rules and regulations.

2.) Yes, I suspect most cows come from super-industrial sized operations. Anyone who has driven on Interstate 5 past Coalinga know how nasty those can be. But there are a bunch of "Happy Cow" like farms sprinkled through the Central and North coasts. Marin and Sonoma Counties in particular have a bunch of these, especially the organic farms.

When I drive up to volunteer at Bodega Marine lab, I drive through the Petaluma dairy country, where a cow's life doesn't seem so bad. I'll have to take some pics the next time I go.

Posted by Ben at August 22, 2005 08:25 PM