North Valley Dairy Shuts Down

June 2, 2009 7:46:15 PM PDT
Falling milk prices have led to another round of dairy closures. Valley dairies have been forced to sell off entire herds. It was a sad sight when you consider this was Jose Rodrigues' life work. The Le Grand dairyman said he had no choice but to get out of the dairy business.It was the final roundup for dairy cows in Le Grand. Guided in to the trailer by both man and dog, the cows were loaded up and headed for the slaughterhouse.

Rodrigues opened this dairy in 1982. He came to America from Portugal to chase a dream, never imagining it would end like this. Rodrigues said "I didn't think it was too hard but the last couple of days I didn't sleep. I didn't think I was nervous but I've done this all my life."

Rodrigues says his milk sells for less than nine-dollars per hundred pounds, half of what it sold for in December. As a result, Jose says he has lost 150-thousand dollars this year. He couldn't afford to stay in the dairy industry. Rodrigues said "If we were real younger we might be able to hold off for a little longer but there is no reason."

Especially when you can no longer afford to feed your cows. Joe Bento does welding work for dairymen like Rodrigues. He is affected directly by this closure. Bento said "To watch him go this was is hard. I don't know how long I'll be able to hold on. If I'm going to be able to hold on. The way these dairies are going and not having much of an education I won't be able to find a job anywhere else."

Rodirgues added "A lot of people are gonna lose their jobs. It's not just the milk. We buy tractors, we buy diesel." Some of Jose Rodrigues' friends watched as the cows were hauled away. Many wondered which dairy would be the next to close.

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