Thursday, April 12, 2007

Milk producers to get paid by state

This article is from Oneanta's Daily Star, and it made my day!

By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star Online Staff Writer

Area dairy farmers are the beneficiaries of a $30 million investment in the industry by the state Legislature. The Dairy Investment Act that was part of the recently passed state budget would help farmers by paying them about 33 cents a hundredweight for milk shipped during 2006, according to York Farm Bureau President John Lincoln. It is modeled after programs in Connecticut and Vermont. Andrew Work, a farmhand for Sunny Acres Swiss, washes an International 966 tractor to make it ready to paint on state Route 28 in Milford on Tuesday.
State Sen. James Seward, R- Milford, a member of the Senate Agricultural Committee, said Tuesday that the payments would be dispersed through the state Department of Agriculture and Markets. "This is designed as a quick infusion of capital" to help dairy farmers, especially with the upcoming spring planting, Seward said. The average 100-cow farm would receive about $7,500, with a cap of about $15,000, he said. A couple of farmers and a dairy official said they appreciated the recognition that the industry merited state support. "It will be a help," Franklin dairy farmer Dan Buel said. "I don’t remember feed prices ever being this high," he said. With fuel costs remaining high and the costs of a lot of spring planting needs going up after last year’s low milk prices, "everything is a help," Buel said. To get by when milk prices are as low as they have been, he said, he has cut back on upgrades around the farm, including equipment. "It’s nice they have finally acknowledged that something has to be done," said Hartwick dairy farmer Cliff Brunner. The state shouldn’t provide grants to attract new business and ignore the dairy industry, he said. It is the largest industry in the state, he said. "To ignore it when it is in trouble would be wrong," he said. He borrowed money to get by in 2006. The relief money will be used to pay off creditors, he said. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County Educator Mariane Kiraly said that of the 20 farm-profitability reviews she has done this year, most had to borrow tens of thousands of dollars to make up for losses in 2006. "It’s a positive that the state recognizes that dairy farmers had a bad year" and are offering help, she said. "Any income is good," she said. The state Senate had initially proposed $60 million in relief, Seward said, but the final result was a compromise to make sure farmers got something. This was envisioned as a one-shot deal, but the situation will be examined in the future, he said. What is really needed, Seward said, is help from a federal farm bill that would result in more stable prices that are tied to production costs,. Farm officials have said these costs range from $16 to $18 a hundredweight, depending on a number of factors. While the prices paid to farmers was $16 a hundredweight before deductions in March, it had been as low as $12 per hundredweight last summer.


Post a Comment

<< Home