Another California exodus: Dairy cows leave for greener pastures in Texas, Arizona as farms squeezed by coronavirus lock down.
California dairy farmers have been the face of an economic collapse that has left them with large cows, empty barns, and bankruptcies.
However, one of the cow towns is leaving the state.
In Southern Tier ranching country, Texas is home to some of the most productive family dairy farms in the nation. In particular, Amarillo lies at the doorstep of the most productive cow-calf operation in the world.
But it is under lockdown, and dairy farming is being squeezed by the coronavirus spread here.
“We can’t keep our production going,” said Amarillo dairy farmer and owner of Red River Dairy LLC, Ray Pinedale.
“We have not been able to keep up with demand and we are not ready to do so. We’ve had to basically suspend our business to do so.”
A few years ago, Amarillo had over 400 dairy employees, but now, there are three dozen.
“We’re just barely hanging on,” said the dairyman.
But while the farmers struggle to stay afloat, there is another side effect of the coronavirus in the cow state: The cows are moving to Texas.
“We’ve had six or seven of our dairy cows move over to Texas, so we’ve lost at least half of our herd, maybe more,” Pinedale said.
But the herd won’t move to Texas for long. Texas dairy producers are desperately in need of new, green herds.
“When you look at the numbers, Texas has been the best place for producing cattle. We have been,” said Amarillo dairy farmer Chad Fike, owner of Fike Family Dairy.
That’s in part due to Amarillo’s perfect climate.
“You have a long, warm dry season and the humidity is about a constant 75% the whole time. The weather is perfect.”
And Amarillo, population: 200,000, is the epicenter of the cattle business in the U.S.
“Our industry is about 40% of total farm