Another California exodus: Dairy cows leave for greener pastures in Texas, Arizona as farms squeezed
This farm in San Ramon is a picture of decline.
On its 1,400 acres of rolling hills, the family’s cattle ranch has been a source of pride — an income source along with the produce and cattle it is known for, but also a way to preserve the environment.
California farmer Tony Andrade, whose family has been raising cattle for more than 100 years, was so surprised by the rapid change that he could barely believe it himself.
“I’ve been farming here for 32 years, but until the drought started, we were doing great,” Andrade, 66, told NBC News during an interview at his ranch in Ramona. “I’m thinking, ‘What the heck?’ We’re losing our pastures. And we can’t even sell our hay and milk to help. This has no precedent in California history.”
Andrade and his father, Tony, are both former farmers who have recently lost their farmland in California’s Central Valley. Tony Andrade lost his two farm holdings, which were valued at over $50 million, to the San Joaquin River.
The family business is still thriving, but Tony Andrade said losing his land was “devastating.”
Andrade, 66, a farmer whose dad has been farming Central Valley land for more than 100 years, is growing up on the same land that his dad and grandfather used to farm. His ranch, called Big Green, is located in central San Bernardino County, about 60 miles northeast of Los Angeles.
A family of dairy cows is on their way to greener pastures in Texas and Arizona — this time, after the California drought has pushed several farmers out of business. For now, Tony Andrade is the only one of six farmers who have left California and is selling his beef and dairy products for a profit.
The Andrades did a deal in which they can sell most of their cattle under contract to a private-label company and make more money than they could from their land. But the Andrades don’t plan to sell their land — or sell their cattle — at this time.