California’s oldest dairy farm is saying goodbye to cows and hello to almonds! Known as the “oldest dairy west of the Rockies,” Giacomazzi Dairy has been milking cows for 126 years. But on October 25, the dairy sold the last of its cows.
Dairy manager Dino Giacomazzi said in an interview:
Our facility is very old and inefficient to operate so we had to make a decision about investing in upgrading the facility and doubling the size of the milk cow herd or doing something else, and basically, we decided we were going to invest in our land and plant more almond trees and just continue farming without the cows.
The farm already has 400 acres of almond trees and its owners plan to add 500 more. This could not have come at a better time.
Dairy milk sales are going through a decades-long decline. In Wisconsin, low milk prices are leading to bankruptcies, and dairy farmers are leaving the industry at a rate of three a day! In fact, the dairy industry and lobbying groups like the National Milk Producers Federation are so threatened by this that they are looking for ways to stop the spread of plant-based milk and cheese products.
While Big Dairy fights a losing battle, companies like Giacomazzi Dairy are adapting to the changing market. After Dean Foods suffered a 91 percent drop in net profits, the company invested for a minority stake in flax-based vegan brand Good Karma Foods. Danone recently acquired WhiteWave Foods, parent company of Silk and So Delicious. And in 2017, Elmhurst Dairy, one of the oldest and largest dairy processors in the United States, switched from cow’s milk to 100 percent plant-based milk.