Dropping milk prices could spell disaster, farmer says

NORWICH Ė Family dairy farms in Chenango County are headed for a disaster come April, one local producer says.

Thatís because milk prices have dropped significantly in just a month, while the cost of production has risen well-above what farmers are getting paid.

According to the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the liquid milk price for the area this month is $19.95 per hundred-weight. (As a commodity, milk is priced per hundred pounds.) Thatís nearly a $3 decrease from February. When the March price is adjusted by the federal government for farm checks sent out in April, itís likely local dairy producers will get paid even less.

Meanwhile, itís costing farmers between $24 and $28 to produce each hundred-weight, USDA figures show. The result: Dairy producers will continue losing money, despite what some consider to be relatively high milk values.

ďWeíre headed for a disaster,Ē said South New Berlin farmer Ken Dibbell, adding that many farmers are still recovering from disastrous returns in 2005, 2006, and the first part of 2007. ďCome April, the pay price will be well below $20. Itís crazy, and we canít stop it.Ē

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