Hillsdale: Help Is On The Way For The Area's Dairy Farmers.

US - In the short term, the New York State Dairy Assistance Program, part of the new state budget, will send out direct payments for milk produced during 2006, beginning May 9. And to ensure that farmers are paid enough to cover the cost of production over the next five years, Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand (D-20th) has introduced the American Dairy Farmer Protection Act to the farm bill now being negotiated in the U.S. House and Senate
calendar icon 18 April 2007
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The state Dairy Assistance Program was announced by Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker Friday, April 13. Farmers who complete their applications for assistance by April 27 will receive payments in the range of 30 to 35 cents per hundredweight.

Columbia County Farm Bureau President Eric Ooms said the Senate originally passed legislation that would have provided $60 million in payments to farmers, or exactly twice what was announced last week. He said his family's operation, which is eligible for the maximum payment, will receive a check for approximately $15,000. Ancramdale farmer Jim Davenport, who has a herd of 60 cows and produced 1.6 million pounds of milk last year, anticipates receiving about $5,000.

"It certainly helps, and I wouldn't expect the state to bail us out completely," said Mr. Davenport. "It's a matter of input costs being up so much. Last year, to pay my bills, I had to borrow over $50,000."

Dairy prices have gone up somewhat in recent months, and Mr. Davenport said March was the first month out of the last 14 when he'd seen a positive cash flow.

The current wholesale milk price is just under $16 per hundredweight. "Three years ago, farmers would have been making a decent amount of money at $16, but diesel [fuel] was 99 cents a gallon," said Mr. Davenport. The current price for diesel is close to three times that, and other expenses have also risen dramatically. Fertilizer that cost $280 a ton three years ago was $480 a ton last week, due in part, Mr. Davenport said, to the ethanol boom. Corn and soybean prices have gone up from $2.50 to $4 per bushel.

Source: Hillsdale Independent
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