Obstacles, bringing dairies here discussed

March 29, 2002|By LAURA MITCHELL, Staff Writer

Two issues may keep Imperial County from wooing more dairies to the area: summer's heat and lack of groundwater, dairyman Geoffrey Vanden Heuvel said.

Vanden Heuvel of Chino and an industry consultant, was part of a dozen dairymen from Chino and Corona who came to the Valley Monday to explore relocating here.

California is the largest dairy-producing state, but as urban areas grow, dairymen are being squeezed out.

Dairymen in the Chino-Corona area are having problems with environmentalists and nearby residents who complain of the dairies' odors, even though the dairies were there first, Imperial County Farm Bureau Executive Director Steve Pastor said.

The dairymen said they are being offering $150,000 an acre by developers for their land, which makes moving feasible.

Imperial County is trying to lure the Chino-Corona dairymen to this area through its Dairy Attraction Committee. Reps. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, and Ken Calvert, R-Riverside, attended Monday's luncheon and encouraged the dairymen to consider moving to Imperial County.


It's expensive to build a new dairy anywhere, Vanden Heuvel said. Housing has to be built for a dairy in cold climates. In Imperial County, a cooling facility has to be built.

Cooling facilities are used successfully in Imperial County and Arizona, but it adds about $75 to $100 a year to the cost per cow, he said.

Ed McGrew of Holtville said cooling costs are not that high. He said a study five years ago by the University of California, Davis, addresses the costs of dairy cooling facilities.

Pastor also said the study, comparing costs between dairies in Phoenix and Tulare and Imperial counties, makes a good argument to build dairies in Imperial County.

Tulare County has a lot of dairies, but the dairies there are getting pressure from environmentalists and developers, he said.

"We have the water, land, cheap feed and a county Board of Supervisors who are concerned with economic growth," Pastor said.

Vanden Heuvel said since Imperial County has no groundwater, irrigated water needs to be treated at additional expense.

McGrew said treating the water adds some expense but, for the long term, the operating expense is not that high because the Valley has inexpensive water.

"It was very encouraging to see all the dairymen here." McGrew said.

McGrew, a member of the dairy attraction committee, is working with the county's newest dairy, Bull Frog Dairy, owned by the Van Leeuwen family. Bull Frog will soon break ground for a dairy in the west side of the county, McGrew said.

The luncheon was sponsored by the Milk Producers Council, of Ontario.

>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or

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