Milk prices have plummeted in the last year, and state Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) says Wisconsin dairy farmers are being hit hard. She says the average consumer just isn’t eating as much cheese, and the drop in consumption has lead to dramatic changes in the price farmers are receiving for milk.
A new federal assistance program that goes into effect next year is aimed at helping farms weather the economic downturn. It sets aside $290 million for payments to dairy farmers. Vinehout says an average dairy farmer with about 85 cows can expect to get about $5,000. She admits that may not seem like very much, but it could be all that’s needed to help farmers hang on until prices improve.
Vinehout, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, says most dairy farmers should qualify for help if they’ve already been submitting production data to the Farm Service Administration. She says those who need to apply have until January 19th to do so through their local FSA office.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:08)