California has numerous dairy farms and robust dairy industry that has supported California with creation of numerous jobs. The impact of California dairy industry can be felt in the local economy with a good pumping of over 60 billion dollars. That is an industry that can create a lot of interest among analysts and researchers. Currently it has been documented that the dairy industry in California is not doing good and the future is brink. Innovativeness is not coming through while collaboration is poor between the stake holders. Costs are rising and prices of milk get lower each day. This research sort to find out the problems affecting California dairy industry and it has offered solutions on some of them.
Key words. Innovativeness, collaboration, cost, prices, jobs and economy.
Welcome to California dairy industry analysis. The importance of California dairy farms and its cows cannot be undermined or given credit enough. Among peers in terms of job generation the dairy industry in California has thousands of jobs which run into hundreds. This is direct employment while the figure for those employed indirectly is even more astronomical.
The paper will focus on the problems that ail and hurt this robust industry. California dairy industry is such that if anything affects it, the result will be felt even in the other states that make up the structure of the USA. Cheese processed and milk produced in California goes towards satisfying the demands of most consumers in the country (Porter, 1998, 7-13).
Let me try and expound on the dairy industry in general. Dairy industry is made up of farmers, processors and consumers. Between this three, all must maintain the right element of collaboration for the success of the industry. Collaboration is important because all the three parties depend on the industry in one way or another. Apart from those three, the other silent beneficiary is the government, since jobs created assist the government to tackle the problem of unemployment (Ellerby, 2012, pg 5).
Narrowing down further, let me focus on the said farmers, this once keep and maintain the cows. For good milk production, there must be the presence of the right medicines, meaning that qualified animal doctors must be brought on board at times. It very necessary to have water and food for cows and the cows can feed on grass, almonds, corn, soy bean and so on. After all that feeding, the farmer gives water to his animals (Porter, 1998, 7-13). The process involved in processing and sale of final product is also very simple and straight forward. The farmers milk their cows and then sell the milk to processors. Processors then process the milk into various products, among the products produced include, cheese, ghee, raw milk and so on. When processing is completed, the processors convey the final product to a distribution channel which achieves delivery of the ultimate product to the shelf of a supermarket or a convenient store after which the consumer gets hold of their favorite products.
Having briefly introduced the basic highlights of a general dairy industry, I will now narrow down to California the state that has the best production capacity in the USA. Analysts and researchers alike have predicted that California`s dairy industry future is not as bright and appealing (Guthey, 2013, pg 171-192).
There was a report that has predicted that more than 100 dairy farms will have to be closed down due to difficulties in operation. Better still the report says that most if not all of the small scale farmers will have close down due to lack of operating capacity. The operating capacity being talked about is the rise in the cost of production, this has arisen mainly due to rise in the cost of feeds.
There is a major problem here because feeds were not a problem during the yester years. But currently feeds are proving to be a major disaster to the farmers. There is a reason for this, and it is because a lot of acreage on corn is going towards the production of ethanol to take care of the state’s energy needs while the remaining quantity of feeds available is split between the farmers. The other factor affecting feeds is the climate. Drought is slowing down the growth of crops. This causes much wastage of fodder in the plantations. Water is getting even scarcer, due to changes in climate. Crops are not able to achieve maturity and the numerous animals are lacking enough to drink (Posch, 2010, pg 212-257). This coupled together is affecting the small farmer, such a farmer cannot be able to buy feeds at the market price, or sustain enough water for the animal. Prices stay the same while the cost of feeds is increasing daily. The only solution is for the farmer to close. The question of contention here is, is the production of ethanol from corn more important than the production of feeds, or is it a horror case of misadvised priorities.
In this research I will focus and look into the following key objectives-:
- Economic impact of California dairy industry.
- Cooperatives role in managing the dairy industry
- How to save California dairy farms
- How different entities have innovated and collaborated in assisting the dairy industry
- How best to revive and maintain California dairy industry.
- Environment climate changes and how to counter its effect
This senior research paper will be dwelling on facts and information analysis in detail. I will explain step by step findings and analyze to come up with relative conclusion on the matter. I will focus on California and where necessary look into what other states are doing in terms of innovation through collaboration for a better dairy industry.
My research paper will take the following format-:
Literature review- I will bring on board as much information as possible concerning the dairy industry in California, better yet I will rely on works of research done by those before me and industry institutions and write on what conclusions they came up with.
Research strategy- I will explain on the strategies I used to come up with the research, I will explain on the methods and explain them in detail to defy doubt.
Findings and analysis- this section will embody the main frame of this thorough research. The section will hold all the important findings and information concerning the research outcome. Then I will analyze, tabulate if necessary and try and form charts to support my analysis.
Over 430,000 is the number of jobs created and sustained by the California dairy industry, this figures are from the year 2008. Even more interesting is that California has the basic act of 1:20. Meaning for every job formulated directly in the dairy industry, 20 other jobs are conceived indirectly. With those very interesting and astronomical figures, it can be concluded that the dairy industry in California creates more jobs than any other section of California trade.
Statistically California produces 40 billion kilos of milk in one year, bringing in around 60 billion dollars worth of income. Which industry can possibly compete with that in California? To better understand its produce reach, figures show that California’s milk accounts for 21% of all the produce in the United States (JDG Consulting Inc). Even if we tried to turn a blind eye to this industry it is practically impossible, its reach is a story that can be rewritten and retold over and over again. California milk dollar practically builds the economy of this state, CMAB says that one Californian cow if measured on economic activity generates around 32,000 dollars worth of activity. Hence if the activity of each cow is magnified to project 100 cows, this would result into creation of 22 jobs for the locals of California. JDG consulting took a research to understand the dairy industry in California in detail and they came up with the following key highlights in 2007/2008 period-:
- 3% of jobs in California are in the dairy sector.
- As compared to 2007 California generated 2.6% more money in 2008, which translated to over 60 billion dollars.
- Just a single average farm in California generates over 30 million dollars in activity and produces over 20 million kilos of milk. This is impressive compared to the 90s when production was below 9 million.
- One cow in California generates over 30000 dollars and produces over 20000 kilos of milk.
- Between the 90s and 2008, production in California has increased to 40 billion from 25 billion (Ringhuzhu, 2007, pg 31-42).
To come up with this research, JDG Inc relied on data collected from various stake holders, among these there was the involvement of government agencies such as department of commerce in the USA and bureau related to economy and business. JDG Inc developed a chart to show the impact of this industry in the economy of California.
The ratio of job creation between the direct and indirect jobs is enormous such that analysts have compared it to wine and also TV and film industry in California. The chart below shows the difference in job creation between the various sectors. (JDG consulting Inc)
JDG Inc carried out this research in the year 2008/2007, in trying to diffuse the impact of the dairy industry in California, the research company had a simple chart on the distribution channels and the flow of money and its impact.
With such a basic understanding we can deduce that the economy of California can be gravely affected by any element that can threaten to derail the milk industry. In the year 2008 to 2007, the industry in California and the country as a whole faced problems related to milk. The milk prices were not enough to cover the production cost. Prices of milk were dropping faster than the prices were rising. This was due to oversupply and rise in the cost of feeds, these therefore led to foreclosure of some of the farms. Since that year nothing important has happened to support the industry, no policy neither private participation has solved the problem within (Ketels, 2008, page 375-392). Due to the industries significance in the economy of California, CCCD-(California center for cooperative development) took up the initiative of wanting to know, what is ailing the dairy industry in the country. CCCD could not travel the entire country but the basic assumption was that, if there is a problem in California then that problem must be affecting the other states which possess farms. The problems with the dairy industry in California were found to be interesting and some lacked good innovativeness to stop recurrence.
The first problem with milk was a period of over supply compared to the demand in the market. Especially during the summer period, farms produce copious amounts of milk yet the demand tends to be low at such a time because kids are normally at home on holidays (Muro, 2013, pg 5 to 8). Hence the only option available to processors is to convert the milk into products that are a bit more none perishable such as milk powder and cheese. Apparently in the USA, the prices of this products is lower than the cost of fluid milk, hence this automatically translates to lower profits than expected. To solve the problem with supply USDA collaborated with processors to purchase their solid products to at least raise the prices of milk but this has done barely enough (Muro, 2013, pg 5). Seeing that USDA could not do enough to solve the problems associated with oversupply cooperatives came together to form CWT- (cooperatives working together program) this ingenious idea brought the industry players collaborating together to bring to an end the problem of oversupply. This program brought together meat processors, farmers and milk processors to an innovative point where they collaborated to retire some of the cows.
Herd retirement entailed the buying of cows from farmers at a good price, then taking the cows to a slaughter house, where the cows are slaughtered for meat. The meat is then supplied to the market. This act was meant to achieve the lowering of milk producing cows leading to less milk production. The plan did work, but later research showed that milk prices sky rocketed to a point where consumers did not consume (Ellerby, 2013, pg. 232).
The other problem that stake holders point to is the cost of production. A farmer can accept any profit so long as the money offered is enough to generate a profit. The feeds cost is affected by competing needs. The industry wants ethanol as a clean energy and the animals want to feed. To solve these, a suggestion has been circulated to the industry to find the waste generated in the dairy farm as a source of clean and good energy. What is needed is for public and private entities to embrace and support biogas. CCCD found out that if biogas was embraced for electricity or gas production, the rush for ethanol would reduce and the cow better looked after (Posch, 2010, pg 242). CCCD reported that the adoption of biogas reduced negative impact on the environment by a bigger margin. This same environment is a point of concern to farmers, when drought creeps in and the feeds have to reduce leading to increase in the prices of feeds. The same cycle repeats itself due to lack of collaboration between the various stake holders.
In countries such as the Netherlands they have achieved low milk production cost, due to extensive innovativeness, market understanding and collaboration between the different milk firms. In fact some dairy firms have collaborated with some in the USA emphasizing on the importance of collaboration (Porter, 2012, pg 50). Cooperatives have come into play to assist and push for better prices from the processors and better conditions for the industry from the government. Hence many cooperatives have merged up to form bigger cooperatives and invest in the cheap production of feeds and building of better processing capacities. California has a unique industry where milk prices are calculated by a single entity which base their prices on several factors. Unknown to many a new small farmer for example faces the following problems-:
- Cost of production is higher in California compared to other states.
- The state is affected by imports of cheap cheese
- Few supporting structures in the industry compared to other states
- To gain a profit a producer must go large scale.
Collaboration in energy and production cost is achievable with the right strategy. Stake holders need to embrace biogas and modern ways of funding for feeds. Cooperatives can plant and process their own feeds and biogas can be produced in large scale, failure to which the cost of managing the environment will keep going higher. It is misplaced priorities and policies that feed farms can be substituted for ethanol farms (Guthey, 2013, pg 68).
The importance of information search cannot be overstated in this research paper. I had the responsibility of reading widely on the topic, and trying to understand in details the fundamentals herewith involved in the topic of California dairy. California is a huge state that is big in dairy if not enormous in dairy industry meaning obviously that it has created some interest.
I was on the lookout for information and research carried out by various researchers. The information I found was good and helpful but it was a disappointment that, only a few individuals and entities have undertaken qualitative research on the industry in California. Most information found was quantitative (Carlifonia University). The tendency to lean on the qualitative part of information correction by researchers rather than striking a balance with quantitative can be assumed to motivation based. California has interesting figures when it comes to production and the ultimate input to the economy in general. Hence a researcher cannot be able to turn a blind eye to the figures. Innovation through collaboration is a topic that sort to understand the feelings on the ground. I had the responsibility of understanding whether there was enough effort among the industry players to help the industry in California. To do this the assumption was that I had to talk to a couple of farmers.
Mostly the government holds critical information which with all due intention is corrected in good faith with a desire to form a policy that can help an industry. Bureaucracy then creeps in and that means some of the research recommendations are never implemented but the truth is that, the government is normally in full knowledge on this (Posch, 2010, pg 212). For this paper to be adhere to the subject line, the research will be mainly qualitative, collaboration is a matter of practical things that are happening, and innovativeness is about documented works that have taken place in the industry over a certain period of time. The information in this paper was corrected through three main mediums-:
- Interview questions and questioners
- Content analysis
- Internet assistance (journals, government sites, independent research, keywords information)
My main powerful tool in information correction was the interview I corrected. May I say that, my physical presence helped in better understanding of the frustrations and sometimes positive energy exhibited by the stake holders I spoke with. Hence I was able to better bring to you the information correctly and accurately enough as gotten from the field.
Collaboration has to be a mutual assistance between two individuals or entities. The dairy industry has various stakeholders who needed to be brought on board in the research. There is the farmer, processors and other interested parties such as the energy sector. For this research I decided to concentrate on the cooperatives, farmers and the government. The government incorporation in the research was motivated by its role in stability of the industry. Hence I had questioners for each of these stake holders. Below are the prototypes of the questioners I used on the farmers, cooperatives and the government.
|are you making a profit in the dairy industry|
|do you have a problem with accessing feeds|
|has there been enough innovativeness in the industry to assist the farmer|
|do you feel any assistance from the government and the private sector|
|Have you assisted in lowering cost of production in farmers|
|are feeds the main problem with the industry|
|Have you collaborated widely with other stake holders|
I did not issue any questioner to a government office, I went there personally to ask the two questions that I had-:
- How have you collaborated with the farmer to reduce the cost of production
- Between ethanol production and biogas adoption why is the government supporting ethanol production more.
My research sample was enough but not huge. I visited 1 government office in the department of agriculture, I choose only two cooperative and visited five different farmers. I concentrated on the cost of production and feeds mainly. Since this were the sections that required innovativeness.
All the questioners were answered. The number of questioners was low, with only 5 questioners printed for the farmers, 2 printed for the cooperatives hence in total I had 7 questioners. In the government office I never bothered to write a questioner to them, these are the main stake holders. The government has the power to directly or indirectly improve the conditions in the dairy industry, hence it was only fair to listen to information from the horse’s mouth.
In content analysis, I took the works of prior investigators and tried to analyze its meaning. There was good information on the books, aspects such as understanding the relationship between environment, economy and the effect on farmers was a matter of looking into deep explanations on the relationship. I sort out websites and tried to understand the information contained within. More information was found on the internet, especially regarding quantitative matters, there were interesting figures and statistics that were of interest to the matter contained in this research paper. In the internet, keywords like California dairy had plenty of information to consider, and this greatly helped in the generation of the questions asked above in the analysis I will give a result of the research in detail. I will use charts and tables to bring forth the results of the findings found in the questioner. Content analysis will assist in better conclusions later while the use of the internet will assist in bringing up information to support the findings basing it on prior research. I am tempted to say that the findings here are absolute.
Findings and Analysis
Literature review above has mainly concentrated on the already documented information. It has brought out the inherent problems within the dairy industry. My research hence concentrated in determining whether it is true that the feelings on the ground are as brought out in the literature review. Qualitative research best brings out the feelings and frustrations of farmers if any. I will now explain the motivation behind asking the questions what they were meant to achieve.
- Are you making a profit in the dairy industry? – Research has shown that most farmers are operating at a breakeven point hence it was necessary to understand if the findings were true. A farmer hence since I was physically present would explain by word of mouth, whether the profit was low, average or high.
- Do you have a problem with accessing feeds? – I identified feeds as the main problem affecting farmers. The cost were getting higher and higher, a farmer would hence confirm my fears and if it’s the truth.
- Has there been enough innovativeness in the industry to assist the farmer? – A farmer is the one who normally gets affected whether positively or negatively when an innovation comes through. Hence the farmer knows when there is genuine effort to help him.
- Do you feel any assistance from the government and the private sector? – Government sets policy, a policy like ethanol from corn is the governments doing with the help of the private industry. The government can also subsidize the farmer hence has the farmer felt the assistance.
The findings from the questioner directed to famers will be tabulated below. First point to note is that the questioners were answered in full. I concentrated my research in one area. Hence the farmers practically knew each other and have definitely discussed the state of the industry at one time or another.
Below are the results of the five farmers who answered the questioners.
|Are you making a profit in the dairy industry||40%||60%|
|Do you have a problem with accessing feeds||80%||20%|
|Has there been enough innovativeness in the industry to assist the farmer||20%||80%|
|Do you feel any assistance from the government and the private sector||60%||40%|
Going by the above table results, we can deduce the following. Out of the five farmers, only 2 felt that they were making a deserving profit. The others did not like the minor profits they made. This difference in opinions on this question arose due to the sizes of the farms. Two of the farmers had very big farms, this automatically translates to economies of scale when cost is factored is factored. Small farms cannot be able to control the cost by using economies of scale.
On the second question only one farmer did not have a problem with accessing feeds. This farmer grew his feeds and tried to process the feeds on his own. The other four did not produce their feeds to required capacity, this hence means that the farmers were buying their feeds from the producers. The feeds in this case were expensive cutting down on profits and at times feeds proved to be hard to get.
The third question best supported the frustrations in question 2. Only one farmer felt there was enough innovativeness to help the farmers. This farmers made a good profit, and he has enough feeds hence he dint feel the pinch the others felt. The farmers who have encountered huge costs did not think there was enough innovativeness and collaboration to help the farmer lower the cost of production.
The last question did not do as badly 3 out of 5 felt that there was assistance in some way from the government or the private sector. The 3 farmers remember the noble idea of cow retirement and the government buying solid products in order to stabilize the prices. Hence they gave a little credit to the private sector and the government. 2 of the farmers never felt the effect of the assistance from the government. This means the dairy industry was gravely affecting them negatively. Below is the chart that shows the analysis from the above questioner
Once done with the farmers, and understanding their frustrations I needed to talk with the other stake holders. Hence I picked on the cooperatives. Just two were enough. I approached one director from each company, so that while he was filling the simple and small questioner he could actually explain some of the details against which they were filling.
Like done earlier let me expound on the reasons why I choose the questions I asked and what they were meant to achieve-
- HAVE YOU ASSISTED IN LOWERING COST OF PRODUCTION IN FARMERS- this question was directed to the director in order to know whether they have assisted in any way the farmers whom they are supposed to protect. Since I was there, I needed to know how they have assisted the farmers.
- ARE FEEDS THE MAIN PROBLEM WITH THE INDUSTRY – there might be a mismatch in priorities between the farmers and the cooperatives which represent them. I needed to know whether the cooperatives shared the same views as the farmers, and whether they knew that feeds took up a lot of farm production cost.
- HAVE YOU COLLABORATED WIDELY WITH OTHER STAKE HOLDERS – this question was asked out of curiosity and need to know basis. The Netherlands has achieved a lot through collaboration. Hence I needed to know whether the problems with California were brought about by lack of collaboration between the cooperatives and other stake holders.
The following were the results I got from the two cooperatives that I visited. Cooperatives protect each other and almost think the same to avoid blame games being directed to them. Hence increasing the sample size would not altered the results in any way, instead it would have deepened the hypocrisy if at all there was any. The results were as follows-:
|Have you assisted in lowering cost of production in farmers||100%|
|are feeds the main problem with the industry||100%|
|Have you collaborated widely with other stake holders||100%|
Like mentioned earlier, hypocrisy is the word we can use for cooperatives. Maybe the questions were not aggressive enough, but there is no one time that a cooperative can say that they have not tried something. In the above questioner the directors seemed to fall apart in thoughts with the farmers. Clearly the priorities were amazingly different. The first question saw the two directors support that they have assisted the farmers to lower down the cost of production. But how have the cooperatives assisted to lower the cost of production. The cooperatives said that they were buying the milk at competitive prices to help farmers make enough to compensate on the cost of production. The results from the answers given by farmers show a very different scenario. Question two now confounds the shocking revelation in question one. Cooperatives did not think that feeds was the main problem affecting the industry. Apparently they blamed the challenges on the industry to the government lack of enough subsidies. Such that they can make the cooperatives make huge profits. At this point I knew that cooperatives were after profits, not the true frustrations of the farmers.
Cooperatives said they have collaborated with the other stake holders. I sort to understand in what way, and I found out that, cooperatives had simply merged to form even bigger cooperatives. But this kind of merging had led to ignorance for the main reason behind cooperatives. Instead of solving the main problems, cooperatives concentrated more on profits and margins. Although they have stated formulating policies that will see them start planting and producing their own feeds. Hopefully if this is fully implemented and adopted widely it will assist the farmer’s access cheap and quality feeds. The percentages of the results found from the cooperatives are as presented in the chart below.
The last bit of my personal took me to a government office specifically department of agriculture. I had only two questions. The number of questions were limited to two so that I would not lack an interview under any circumstance. Furthermore two questions seem small enough and also seem to take minimal time.
The questions that I asked were intended to achieve the following-
- How have you collaborated with the farmer to reduce the cost of production – I wanted to know whether the government has assisted the farmer lower the cost of production in any way. And if it has explain on it.
- Between ethanol production and biogas adoption why is the government supporting ethanol production more- my research had identified the silent problem of feed farmers producing corn for ethanol. Hence I needed to know what the government’s policy was and stand on this issue.
Out of those questions the official did not shy away from giving me an answer on the matter. The first question the official spoke of federal government buying some of the milk products in order to influence the prices of milk. The department also said they have offered some subsidies to the sector. The government though could not clearly explain if there was direct involved in feeds cost reduction. On this front the government did not collaborate with the farmer in order to secure water and cheap feeds. In fact the government did not regard feeds as the main problem points that needed solving.
Second question the official could not give a convincing answer. The government is cautious and aggressive on clean energy. And in that rush, note was not taken to look into the dairy industry as a source of energy. The official said that the government is supporting both ethanol and biogas at the same time. He said that he dint think ethanol production affected the cost of feeds.
It dint matter that 40% of all the corn production in California was going to ethanol production. Meaning that this crops that were used for human consumption and animal feeding were being used to produce gallons of ethanol. An employee is not allowed to complain against his employer to an outside party, from what I saw and heard from the official, it seems he knows that ethanol was eating away on the feeds acreage but he could not argue against. Because the government knew it was supporting both ethanol and biogas.
We finally reach the climax of this senior research paper. I have explained in detail my findings and incorporated some of the findings documented by other researchers. Innovation through collaboration is term well known and understood in the Netherlands. In California it is a whole different issued. The research revealed that there has been a genuine effort for two or more stake holders to come together and try and solve through collaboration some of the problems that are facing the industry. CCCD had commissioned a research to try and find out the problems facing the industry.
The same cooperatives had come up with measures and strategies to try and help the farmer. The fact USDA could collaborate with cooperatives to try out the idea of cow retirement was a statement that spoke of innovation. Then again the government had tried through the federal agencies to buy some of the products cooperatives produced to try and spice up the prices of milk.
My research finds that there is an effort here to try and innovate, in order to bring out the best in the dairy industry in California. But this innovations are not well informed. For example, cow retirement program was closed down after some time because the prices of milk climbed further up than expected.
The government could not sustain some of the programs such as continually buying products from cooperatives which are then exported to the outside world. This therefore means that, collaborating is very wanting between the various stake holders. If there was any meaning collaboration long term solutions to some of these problems should have been found by now. What it seems is that with time, innovations that come into place fall as quickly as they are conceived. This situation is not acceptable to an industry that is as important as the dairy industry in California. May I say that the government too has an aspect of misplaced priority, For example ethanol is part of government policy but the same does not talk of how this ethanol can be produced efficiently without creating problems in other sectors. As the case stands, the government is watching with a closed eye as ethanol production invades feed farms. Then explanation that comes from all this, is that the government is aiming at clean energy production. But this decision is affecting the dairy industry. Feeds are such an important input, and they take up a big chunk of milk production cost. It is my suggestion that the government should look into the policies that it tries to implement keenly. Farmers must be well looked after and especially small scale farmers should be protected. If these farmers close down, then we will have a situation of loose of jobs and money injected into the economy.
Likewise cooperatives should have a mission statement that speaks of business. Business in this case means taking care of farmers. Cooperatives should be genuinely concerned about farmers. In fact the mission should be very clear, that is to reduce the cost of production and seek on ways to increase the milk prices. The Netherlands has achieved that low cost, because of collaboration and innovativeness that is practical and real. California dairy industry is an employer that should be given due respect, residents have benefited from the dairy industry. The other suggestion is that collaboration should not be short term. Things should be researched and put in order. So that innovativeness can last for some time. In the research I found myself with questions I could not answer and possibly it is time another researcher took up the assignment and research further on the following questions.
- The reason why cheese is cheap than fluid milk and where cheese imports are coming from.
- Real impact of ethanol production on animal feeds.
- Reasons behind persistent droughts in California and whether it is affecting water sustenance in California farms
- The two main reasons troubling the dairy industry in California.
My research has come to an end at this point. It was conclusive. I can say that innovation is there and collaboration is there. But there lacks persistency and consistency in coordination. Any other researcher can take up and find out problems facing California dairy industry. The researcher can base his research topic on the questions I have asked above.
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