Maine dairy farmers press for subsidies

Posted Feb. 19, 2009, at 12:23 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine dairy farmers pleaded with lawmakers to restore a fund that guarantees them minimum milk prices, saying it’s critical to keeping dairies in the state running.

More than 100 farmers spoke Wednesday at a meeting of the Legislature’s Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, which is looking into ways to keep the so-called milk tier program running. The subsidy program, which guarantees farmers a certain price for their milk so they can at least break even, has been drained due to dwindling state revenues.

Committee members say the fund is $5 million short of what’s needed.

Turner dairy farmer Ralph Caldwell said farmers are just looking for a way to pay their bills. But he said they can’t do so with the current price of milk.

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