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State-approved changes bring down dairy shipping costs

August 28, 2001|By LAURA MITCHELL, Staff Writer

The Imperial Valley scored a victory Aug. 22 when the state approved including the county in changes that reimburse dairy farmers for shipping costs.

The changes make Imperial County more appealing to dairy farmers because they bring some relief to the cost of shipping milk to processing plants, said Jerry Craveiro, owner of Cameiro Hefer Ranch in Brawley.

"It's important to the dairymen because the Valley is so far from milk-processing areas," Craveiro said.

"One reason dairy was not moving here is there's no place to go with milk," said Rudy Schaffner, owner of Schaffner Dairy in Holtville. "This will open up other markets."

The dairy transportation allowance takes effect Sept. 1. The changes also increase the transportation rate from $.32 to $.43 per mile and added San Diego as a new receiving area.

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A receiving area is designated by the state for farmers to ship to in order to receive the allowance. San Diego is a separate receiving area from the Southern California receiving area, which is Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties.

"We don't have a dairy processor in the county," said Stephen Birdsall, Imperial County agricultural commissioner. "Now we have a transportation allowance for dairies to ship milk to processors out of the county."

Imperial County has two dairies, one that ships milk to Arizona and one that has built it's own creamery, said Birdsall. Another dairy is in the works, Birdsall added.

"The previous shipping rules were unfair, but it was not the intent of anyone," Schaffner said, who ships his milk to Arizona. "No one perceived a need for shipping allowances in Imperial County."

That sentiment was echoed in a letter from the Milk Producers Council to the California Department of Food and Agriculture on May 10 that states "rules and mileage brackets have no logical consistency between regions."

Imperial County joins eight other counties in being approved for the shipping changes. The other counties are: Inyo, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura.

The changes also are a help to the county's alfalfa farmers who sell to dairies, Schaffner said.

Dairy support services, such as feed, can only benefit if the more dairies come to the county, Birdsall said.

Staff writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or la_mitchel1@yahoo.com

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