Los Angeles Times

California's dairy farmers were struggling to regain profitability. Then came the trade wars

TURLOCK, Calif. - "The overall feeling is that we hit 'peak cow' five or six years ago."

Devin Gioletti, a fourth-generation dairy farmer in this Central Valley community, was outlining for me the trajectory of the dairy industry in California, the nation's largest. He was alluding back to when the industry was still growing and milk prices were rising, and his family farm was expanding the herd and investing in advanced equipment to raise the productivity of its thousands of cows.

Things look different now. The industry, including his farm, has been unprofitable since 2014, when prices peaked. Since then, the average producer price for raw milk has fallen by almost one-third, to less than the cost of production.

For a few months this spring, it looked as if milk prices were finally turning around. Then came the tariffs.

Starting at the beginning of July, Mexico and China imposed tariffs on U.S. dairy products in retaliation for Trump administration trade belligerence. China, which had been

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