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Editor’s note: The following opinion was submitted for publication by the Milk Producers Council in response to Progressive Dairyman Editor Walt Cooley’s editorial “When we can’t borrow our way out?” in the April 13, 2009 issue.

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A rotating milking parlor, weeping-wall manure-settlement basin, cross-ventilated dairy barns that work like huge swamp coolers – all were features at a Southwest Dairy Day held May 8 near Dublin.

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On April 16-17, around 20 dairy producers from southern Wisconsin and Illinois visited five dairies to see new Lely robotic milking units in action. The tour, sponsored by Argall Dairy Systems of Belleville, Wisconsin, and Lely, stopped at dairies that had installed from one to four robots since September of 2008.

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Late last year, the Secretary of California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) reduced the minimum Class I price plants must pay by 35 cents. This decision followed a prior hearing where CDFA also reduced producer income when it increased transportation allowances and credits for milk delivered to Class I, II and III plants.

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We all know the old saying, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” When it comes to milk in 2009, the market may be handing us the proverbial lemon. For many producers, milk prices may barely come near, let alone exceed, break-even levels. That certainly is the sour taste of a lemon.

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