Sunday, December 09, 2018
 Senators Push to Raise Support Prices for Dairy Farmers  

By Adam D. Krauss

The state's agriculture commissioner says using $350 million to raise the floor amount that dairy farmers get paid for their milk will help, but isn't enough to stabilize the industry.

At play is an effort from Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and other senators to keep the funding in the final agriculture appropriations bill.

If approved, the Department of Agriculture could raise the support prices for nonfat dairy milk, cheddar blocks and cheddar barrels — those products that factor in to the USDA determining how much farmers get for the milk their farms produce. The support price is supposed to serve as the least amount the items can sell for.

N.H. Commissioner Lorraine Merrill said the proposal can provide some relief for farmers who, like their counterparts nationwide, have seen milk prices drop at least 40 percent over the last year.

But, she cautioned, "It's not going to do the trick and it's certainly not the long-term solution."

Last month, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack temporarily raised the support prices, which Merrill said was one factor in New Hampshire seeing a slight increase in the cost of milk per 100 pounds. Another factor is the slowing of cow production, which has eased the amount of milk that was on the market, she said.

Today, state farmers are getting on average about $12 per 100 pounds of milk, which is up from the $11 in March but "it's still way below the cost of production, which runs around the $19 range," she said.

Before the global financial meltdown hit, the market bore more favorable prices for dairy products, sometimes well above the support price levels, Merrill said.

But since then the levels have been "below any sensible realistic value," she said, referring to them as a "safety net spread on a cement floor."

Under the $350 million proposal, the price per pound for nonfat dry milk would go from $.92 per pound to $.97; $1.31 to $1.40 for cheddar blocks; and from $1.28 to $1.37 for cheddar barrels.

"We must preserve the nation's small and mid-sized dairy farms, and to do that we must increase the price of milk paid to farmers," Shaheen said in a statement, adding, "we will continue to look for long-term ways to reduce volatility in the market so that our dairy farms can survive."

Source: Dover Foster's Daily Democrat, NH

Posted on Tuesday, September 22, 2009 (Archive on Tuesday, September 29, 2009)
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