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No Whey: Dairy Farmers Head to Sacramento for Reform on Cheese By-Product

Photo by USDAgov via Flickr
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It's no secret that the California dairy industry is suffering. Almost 400 dairies throughout the state have closed in the past five years, with 105 of those being shuttered in 2012. Farmers are facing all sorts of financial hardships, with some allegedly killing off entire herds just to save money. Today, the dairy farmers of California are bringing the issue to Sacramento, hoping to change the way that whey, a by-product of cheese making, is priced.

Cheese makers are getting plenty of cash from this whey, which they sell to be used in expensive protein powders and baby formula. And the suffering farmers want a slice of the profit.

Says the L.A. Times:

They're asking lawmakers to overhaul the California Department of Food and Agriculture's complex milk-pricing formula ... California is the only state with its own pricing plan. "Farmers are getting a very small share," said Michael Marsh, chief executive of the Western United Dairymen in Modesto.

The dairy industry is backing AB 31 by Assemblyman Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) to change the current pricing system, which would require the set market price -- which is currently based on the price of butter and cheddar cheese -- to include the price of whey.
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The bill would exempt small cheese producers, but it could make cheese from larger production fascilities much more expensive. In other words, if you're buying your cheese from fancy artisanal markets, you likely won't see much change. If you're getting jacked on Muscle Milk, however, your routine might become a bit more pricey.