California was home to 1,800 independent dairies in 2008, but more than 250 have since closed due to increased costs of production. One of the biggest expenses at dairy farms is cattle feed, which has doubled in price since 2004, yet the retail price of milk only rose about five percent. Despite these closures, the USDA’s Economic Research Service says that consumers can still expect to see an increase in American dairy products due to increased demand in foreign markets. While dairy popularity increases abroad, Americans seem to be making more compassionate choices. The US market for milk substitutes, such as almond milk, grew 13 percent in 2010, putting California at an economic advantage as the producer of 75 percent of the world’s almond supply.
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