Marin County officials to vote on water crisis


Just across the Golden Gate Bridge, along Highway 101, is one of the last family-owned dairy farms in Marin County and the blades of grass dictate 30-year-old Anthony Silveira's future.

"Alfalfa prices have gone up. Our own grass has gone down, so you have to feed extra to compensate for what you don't have in your fields," said Silveira.

The long dry winter has forced Silveira to spend an extra $200,000 on alfalfa for his 250 cows.

"Normally the grass is so thick in February we don't have to feed at all," said Silveira.

That's why Marin County supervisors will debate whether to declare a state of emergency for its farmers. The hope is to get some federal relief.

"The ranchers still don't have the production across the board. About 50 percent of normal pasture production in Marin County and going up into Sonoma as well," said Stacy Karlsen, a Marin County Agricultural Commissioner.

"Oh in that field, the cows will eat it in probably two weeks," said Jon Madeiros, a dairy farm manager.

"It seems that we're stuck with the bottom line. Everyone else's prices change, but the price of milk is dictated to us," said Anthony Silveira.

Last week, Silveira's grandfather passed away leaving this fourth generation dairy farmer realizing the bail of alfalfa he's carrying could quite literally be his last straw.

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